Chinese tech giant Baidu has unveiled a robocar concept called ROBO-01. With it, the company's electric car subsidiary JIDU and Chinese automaker Geely hope to lead the charge toward a world of fully autonomous cars.
The ROBO-01, which Baidu announced on Wednesday, is a sleek all-electric hatchback with gull-wing front doors, a folding steering wheel and a strong focus on computing power. The car will use Baidu's Apollo platform, which is used by many automakers in China. According to the company, it has racked up almost 17 million miles (27 million kilometers) of supervised autonomous driving via robotaxis using the platform.
The car will be equipped with Nvidia's Orin X chips, as well as 31 external sensors, including LiDAR, millimeter-wave radar, ultrasonic radar, and 12 cameras. The entire system, according to Baidu, has been extensively tested and verified using JIDU's simulated vehicle technology called JIDU SIMUCar.
Baidu Concept Car interior (Image credit: Baidu)
Baidu has also equipped the car with Qualcomm's fourth-generation Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platform 8295 chip that enables the car's large dashboard-mounted screen to display 3D images for navigation, gaming and "online office" scenarios. A "human-like" voice assistant also inhabits the car and provides offline feedback in milliseconds, according to the automaker.
According to CEO Xia Yiping via Wired (opens in a new tab), the computing power of the training algorithms powering Baidu's self-driving technology is comparable to that of Tesla's custom supercomputer called Autopilot (no words, but about how this EV compares to Tesla at the front of the driving range). Yiping also told the magazine that the move from creating software to making hardware stemmed from a desire to bring the two ideas together.
JIDU plans to release a feature-limited production model in the fall that will be "90% similar" to the concept renders, and the company will unveil a second iteration of the concept design at this year's Guangzhou Auto Show.
The concepts are great, but we're a little more excited about the electric vehicles we can buy today.