Chinese self-drive buses enter ‘mass production’

Baidu’s self-driving mini bus on show in Shanghai.

The march of the robots gets wheels.

One of China’s biggest technology companies has declared it has begun mass production of a self-driving bus, reports BBC News.

Baidu made the announcement after building its 100th Apolong vehicle at its factory in the country’s south-eastern Fujian province.

It said the vehicles would initially be put to commercial use within Chinese cities but added it was also targeting foreign markets.

The company is one of several competing to sell “level-4 autonomy” buses.

The classification – set by the transport engineering body SAE International – refers to highly automated driving systems that can cope with most driving conditions, even if a human fails to respond appropriately to a request to intervene.

It is one step below the maximum level-5 tier, which extends to all driving scenarios, including dirt roads and unusual weather conditions.

Baidu’s chief executive, Robin Li, detailed its plans at the company’s annual artificial intelligence developer conference in Beijing.

He said: “2018 marks the first year of commercialisation for autonomous driving.

“In the past, China exported cheap commodities to the world. In the future, China will export AI technology to the world.”

Softbank deal

The Apolong bus can seat up to 14 people, and has been developed with a local vehicle manufacturer.

It has no driver’s seat, steering wheel or pedals. It runs on electric power and can travel up to 100km (62 miles) after a two-hour charge, at up to 70km/h.

Baidu envisages it being used for “last-mile” drop-offs within enclosed areas, such as airports and tourist sites.

The company said partners would soon put it to use in Beijing, Shenzhen, Wuhan and other Chinese cities.

Continued here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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July 4, 2018 at 10:42AM

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