Baidu opens up its autonomous driving platform with project ‘Apollo’

By : |April 19, 2017 0

Chinese tech giant Baidu has announced project Apollo that will provide an open, and reliable software platform for its partners in the automotive industry to build self-driving vehicles faster.

The platform encompasses both hardware and software, providing partners with the tech and open-source code needed to help their own vehicles perceive obstacles, plan their routes, and otherwise move around our world.

“AI has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI’s biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles,” said Qi Lu, Group President and Chief Operating Officer at Baidu.

The name “Apollo” has been borrowed from the Apollo lunar landing program – a ground-breaking project that brought together multiple forces for the benefit of society. Baidu believes autonomous driving is similar in terms of its potential to transform the world.

According to Baidu, the initial target is to open the technologies up for vehicles in restricted environments this July and then to offer it to vehicles driving in simple urban road conditions later this year and finally opening its full tech stack — covering fully autonomous driving capabilities on highways and open city roads — by 2020.

The company will also initiate a partnership alliance, working with partners who will provide the best and most compatible vehicles, sensors, and other components, to achieve broad participation and collaboration and to provide references and recommendations to participants of a rapidly expanding ecosystem enabled by Project Apollo. This will lower the barriers to entry for research and development of autonomous driving technologies, making it more accessible to the general public, and accelerate the overall pace of innovation.

Baidu’s had previously collaborated with BMW on self-driving cars for two years, but the two companies broke off their partnership in 2016, after reportedly differing on the pace and direction of their research.

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