Baidu’s autonomous driving tech will be one generation ahead of Tesla, says CEO

China’s search engine giant Baidu is developing a new fully-electric AI-powered “robo-car”, with an autonomous driving system that will supposedly be a full generation ahead of Tesla’s system, according to its CEO.

“Our understanding of smart vehicles is that being electric is the semi-final while being intelligent is the final,” Baidu chief executive Robin Li said during its inaugural partner’s conference in Shanghai yesterday.

Baidu first announced its entrance to the EV space in January last year, joining forces with chinese carmaker giant Geely to form the Jidu marque, with a focus on popularising autonomous driving and human-machine interaction technologies.

The company’s autonomous driving tech will be shown off on a flagship EV due for market launch in 2023 that’s based on the ROBO-01 concept, and will feature a retractable steering ‘yoke’, which will be automatically stowed away when the car is driving itself.

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Aside from software wizardry, the ROBO-01’s autonomous driving system also utilises two Nvidia Orin X chips to process data from 31 external sensors, including two LiDAR sensors, five millimetre-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic radars, and 12 cameras.

Unlike Jidu and most other carmakers autonomous driving technologies, Tesla has decided against LiDAR sensors, with eccentric CEO Elon Musk publicly claiming that they are “expensive” and “unnecessary”, even going so far as to say “anyone who relies on LiDAR is doomed.”

Although now in public beta testing, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) system is now years late from its original promised delivery date. The American carmaker is also under scrutiny from regulatory boards recently, with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) accusing it for misleading customers about the system.

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Aside from boasting about its autonomous self-driving tech, The company also detailed its “2880” strategy at the partner conference, with a target of 800,000 robot EVs delivered annually by 2028.

Aside from the flagship sedan, which the company says will bear a 90% resemblance to the ROBO-1 concept, the company is also on track to introduce a second mass-produced model in 2024.

The production version of the Jidu ROBO-01 concept is expected to be revealed soon, followed by the first public display of the second model’s exterior design at the Guangzhou Auto Show in late 2022.



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