Baidu Unveils Self-Driving Passenger Car Hongqi L4 and Other Innovations at Baidu World 2018
At the conference in Beijing Thursday, Baidu, which has been aggressively pushing Apollo in the self-driving car race, has announced a number of partnerships and innovations across several sectors.
The Baidu World Conference 2018 took place Thursday in Beijing, where Baidu Inc. (Nasdaq: BIDU) unveiled its latest technologies, products, and partnerships, presenting its latest self-driving passenger car, Hongqi L4, as the highlight of the event.
Baidu, China's top search engine, has been developing its autonomous driving technology since 2013. Over the past year, the company has been aggressively pushing Apollo, so named after the U.S. mission to the moon, in the race to mass-produce autonomous cars. Recently, it has scored partnerships with a number of Chinese automakers, including BAIC, FAW Group, and Red Flag, and has previously said that it would release its level four driverless cars by 2021. Level four Apollo minibusses, however, have already been running in several locations throughout China, according to Baidu's CEO Robin Li.
Just yesterday, Baidu announced its partnership with Ford to test autonomous vehicles on Chinese roads. The U.S. automaker's self-driving system has already been fitted into Apollo, according to the companies' joint statement.
Today, at the conference in Beijing, Swedish automaker Volvo announced it had its own plans with Apollo.
The president and CEO of Volvo, Håkan Samuelsson, discussed with Baidu's president, Ya-Qin Zhang, the safety issue in autonomous driving at the conference. "We are going to develop the safest automated car on the planet," Samuelsson said. His company, which is owned by China's Geely, plans to combine an electric Volvo car and the Apollo software for the Chinese market, he announced.
In the future, Samuelsson said he sees an improved infrastructure for self-driving cars. He added that the smart cities of the future would have greener areas, less space taken up by roads, garages, and parking lots, as well as develop an interactive environment for man and machine.
Among its plans for Apollo, Baidu said that by the end of this year it plans to complete its Intelligent Vehicle Infrastructure Cooperative Systems, which will "leverage Apollo's capabilities in autonomous driving to bring together intelligent vehicles and infrastructure."
Also at the conference, Baidu's leaders shared insights across the company's business and technology groups, including Baidu Brain, Intelligent Driving, Smart Living, Content Ecosystem, Business Ecosystem, and AI City. In addition, Du Xiaoman, formerly Baidu's Financial Services Group, announced better-than-expected financials for the first time after it spun off from the Chinese search giant.
Shares in Baidu rose 6 percent Thursday to $201.47 per American depositary share in New York.