Baidu’s electric vehicle (EV) company, Jidu Auto, will be a generation ahead of Tesla in terms of self-driving technologies, Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li said in a statement on Monday.
“Our understanding of smart vehicles is that being electric is the semi-final while being smart is the final,” Li added.
Jidu aims to be able to deliver 800,000 of its “robot” cars in 2028, Jidu chief executive Joe Xia Yiping said in the statement.
Jidu also plans to deliver its second model for mass production in 2024, Xia said.
Jidu unveiled its first “robot” concept car, which has no door handles and can be controlled entirely by voice recognition, in June, with plans to mass-produce the model in 2023.
In addition to equipping the car with self-driving software technology powered by Baidu, Jidu’s “robot” vehicles will have two lidars and 12 cameras. Lidars are detection systems, similar to radar, that use pulsed laser light rather than radio waves.
Tesla does not use lidar censors.
Baidu’s electric vehicle manufacturing plan comes as tech companies around the world race to develop smart cars after Tesla’s success in bringing electric vehicles to market.
Smartphone maker Xiaomi and Didi Global are among other Chinese tech giants pursuing car manufacturing ambitions.
Baidu said on Monday it had secured permits to operate the first fully driverless robotaxi services on open roads in two Chinese cities.
The search engine giant said the permits granted by the southwest municipality of Chongqing and the central city of Wuhan marked a “turning point” in the development of China’s autonomous driving policy.
“These permits have deep significance for the industry,” Wei Dong, director of safety operations at Baidu’s smart driving group, told Reuters in an interview. “If we think of space exploration, this moment is like landing on the moon.”
Initially, Baidu will deploy a batch of five paid robotaxis in each city, where they will be allowed to operate in designated areas from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Wuhan and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Chongqing, the company said in a statement.
The service areas cover 30 km2 in Yongchuan District in Chongqing and 13 km2 in Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone.
© Thomson Reuters 2022