Apollo RT6: Baidu's Autonomous EV

July 24, 2022
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The vehicle costs $37,000 (Rs 29 lakhs) per unit and is fully EV with a removable steering wheel

Baidu's Apollo RT6

Baidu, a Chinese search engine and AI company, recently revealed its latest autonomous electric vehicle, Apollo RT6, which will soon be included in the firm's robotaxi fleet.

The cost per unit is $37,000 (Rs 29 lakhs), and it is an all-electric vehicle with a detachable steering wheel. Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li stated that the drastic decrease in production costs would allow for the deployment of tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles across China. "A future when a robotaxi ride costs less than half what a traditional taxi ride does now is within our reach,"he said.

Currently, Baidu operates a service called Apollo Go, which provides passengers with rides in driverless robotaxis accompanied by safety personnel in the front and back seats. Launched in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, the service is now only available in select locations.

The RT6 is also at the fourth of the industry's five technological levels. This means that its systems can function without a human driver, but that a precise map must be pre-loaded in order for the cars to be used outside of specific predetermined locations. Cruise control is an example of an older technology that has been around for a while, and it's only at Level 3 when hands-free driving on the highway becomes possible.

In confined spaces like warehouses and factories, self-driving robot carts are now commonplace. The company claims that, unlike previous versions, in which the technology was retrofitted onto regular vehicles, the Apollo RT6 was designed from the bottom up with autonomous driving in mind. Due to the lack of a steering wheel, additional seating, or even a gaming console or vending machine, can be installed.

Baidu is well-known for its search engine and online advertising services, but in recent years, the company has shifted its focus to autonomous driving and AI development, with significant investments in areas such as intelligent personal assistants and AI processors.

While the United States has been quicker to introduce autonomous driving services, China intends to be the world leader in this area. Waymo, an Alphabet company, launched its autonomous taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2020.

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