The prelude to the large-scale commercial implementation of Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving solution has begun.
It won’t be long before people see production models with self-parking on the streets.
On January 25, during the WeLab Technology Open Day, the WM W6 equipped with Baidu’s AVP autonomous parking solution was unveiled – this is the third mass-produced Model of WM, which was officially rolled off the production line in Huanggang, Hubei a week ago. , and will be delivered in the first half of this year.
With the blessing of Baidu Apollo, WM Motor W6 is equipped with the world’s first cloud-based intelligent autonomous parking system, and has L4-level autonomous driving capabilities in specific scenarios.
Based on this, the prelude to the large-scale commercial implementation of Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving solution has begun.
On the other hand, Baidu officially announced at the beginning of this month that it would establish a smart car company to enter the automotive industry as a vehicle manufacturer, adding another fire to the “car building” craze.
It is not difficult to see that in the battlefield of smart cars, Baidu already has a clear strategy: open cooperation + car building, both are indispensable.
1. The close interaction between Baidu Apollo and car companies
By joining forces with Baidu Apollo, Weimar W6 adopts a new design in terms of Electronic and electrical architecture, gateway, domain controller, voice interaction, and scene-based experience.
Among them, the W6 is equipped with 2 high-definition smart cameras, 4 high-definition surround-view cameras, 5 millimeter-wave radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. The core computing hardware is the first mass-produced autonomous driving computing platform developed by Baidu – ACU (Apollo Computing Unit).
It is understood that Baidu has done a lot of work based on multiple dimensions such as functional safety, expected functional safety, and information security when building ACU, which provides an additional guarantee for the security and reliability of the platform.
At the same time, the capabilities of ACU cover high-precision mapping and positioning, environmental perception, planning control, and the support of cloud computing power of millions of Tops, which can realize real-time closed-loop iteration of data backhaul, cloud training, and upgrade algorithms.
In terms of ACU’s strategy, Apollo has planned three generations:
The first generation is called “Wuren”, which has been mass-produced in December 2020, with a computing power of 1.5Tops, mainly used in AVP autonomous parking;
The second generation, named “Sixi”, will be mass-produced at the end of 2021 with a computing power of 8-32Tops. It will combine high-precision map capabilities to realize autonomous parking in urban parking lots and high-speed autonomous driving ANP;
The third generation is called “Sanxian”, and it is planned to be mass-produced in 2023, with a computing power of 100-200Tops. The goal is to achieve full-scene advanced assisted driving.
Specifically, with the blessing of Apollo technology, users can realize W6’s automatic driving, obstacle avoidance, intelligent search for parking spaces, and autonomous parking, parking and other functions under the condition of unmanned intervention through one button on the mobile phone. driverless function.
Try to imagine a scenario like this:
When the user parks the W6 at the entrance of the parking lot, the vehicle will automatically drive into the parking lot in an unmanned state to find and park in a parking space that can be parked; it is equally convenient to drive out of the parking lot, just use the mobile phone to operate remotely.
Through the realization of this function, the user can be completely liberated from the tedious operations of parking and picking up the car in the parking lot.
In fact, Baidu and WM Motor have a very deep friendship. Li Zhenyu, Vice President of Baidu Group and General Manager of the Intelligent Driving Business Group, said that WM Motor is Apollo’s closest partner in the field of automotive intelligence.
Lei Feng.com learned that with the debut of the W6, Baidu and Weimar will extend their cooperation to more scenarios in the future, including functions such as advanced assisted driving under open roads, and are expected to meet users through OTA in 2021.
As the world’s leading open platform for autonomous driving, Baidu Apollo’s technology accumulation in autonomous driving and smart car networking is needless to say, while WM Motor has sold more than 40,000 smart car products so far, and is determined to be a “smart electric car leader.” popularizer”.
In addition, the safety and innovation concepts of the two sides for the automotive industry are highly overlapped, so the cooperation between the two parties will greatly promote the optimization, iteration and upgrade of autonomous driving technology, forming a benign closed loop of software, hardware and service collaboration, and at the same time promoting In the future, the two parties will further develop higher-quality intelligent products.
Of course, not only WM Motor, Apollo has provided top-level automotive intelligent solutions for all car companies to help car company partners build good cars.
Apollo Smart Drive has started mass production. Among them, only in the AVP function, Baidu has already carried out mass production cooperation with GAC, Weimar, Great Wall and other brands.
In addition, Baidu has previously reached strategic agreements with mainstream car companies such as Geely, FAW, GAC, etc., and has fully blossomed in many fields such as autonomous driving, intelligent vehicle linkage, digital travel, and digital marketing, and relevant SOPs are also being advanced. In the next 3-5 years, Apollo intelligent driving products are expected to carry 1 million units in front-loaded mass production.
In short, based on its own technological accumulation and ecological resources, Baidu Apollo is accelerating and expanding its scale, and has penetrated into many aspects of the smart car industry. These also confirm the leadership of Baidu Apollo’s technical practicability, technical integrity, and AI capabilities.
2. Openness is the original intention of Baidu Apollo
Baidu Apollo is determined to be an enabler of the industry, and to let the majority of industries and developers “EveryOne can AI”.
So, how can Baidu Apollo realize its vision of helping companies build good cars?
It is important to embrace “openness”.
In fact, “open” is the key word that runs through Baidu Apollo since its inception.
As early as four years ago, Baidu began to build the Apollo open ecosystem (open source the source code of each module in the Apollo autonomous driving function framework, and provide it to all partners for free), and released Apollo’s technical architecture and detailed open roadmap .
Apollo has thus become the world’s first system-level open source autonomous driving platform.
After more than three years of development, Baidu’s Apollo platform has a clearer structure, a more complete ecosystem, and is further open to the outside world.
In order to better “help car companies build good cars”, Baidu launched a number of competitive products at the Apollo Ecological Conference in 2020, which are collectively called “Lego-style automotive intelligent solutions”.
According to reports, the Apollo LEGO-style car intelligent solution includes four series of products: “Intelligent Driving, Intelligent Cabin, Intelligent Map, and Intelligent Cloud”, each of which is flexible and assembleable.
In other words, Baidu Apollo hopes to open its own technology to more car companies through this flexible method, speed up the speed of intelligent technology on the car, and avoid the repetitive work of building wheels.
Moreover, from multiple dimensions, this open cooperation route is better than the full-stack self-developed route of car companies.
For example, at the level of autonomous driving technology research and development, a lot of human and material resources are required, and the monetary cost is on the order of tens of billions of yuan. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve real profitability in autonomous driving, and it is difficult to meet the needs of car companies for vehicle cost allocation.
In addition, the time cost is also an issue worth considering. It may take more than 6 years for car companies to build their own intelligent system from zero to one, and then to product landing output, which is not conducive to the current market competition of products.
More importantly, the technology of autonomous driving involves cloud, map, infrastructure resource integration, etc., as well as policy factors, and car companies will face considerable challenges when they only rely on their own capabilities to deploy.
To any extent, embracing an open cooperation model is more cost-effective and convenient than full-stack self-development.
In contrast, Baidu has been working on autonomous driving for 8 years, accumulated rich experience, and its technology has been verified to a considerable extent. It has the strength to help car companies build more mature intelligent car products.
The Lego-style car intelligent solution proposed by Baidu Apollo also shows Baidu Apollo’s determination to embrace openness and help car companies “build good cars”.
3. Car building + open cooperation are indispensable
At present, Baidu has officially announced that it will stop building cars and enter the automotive industry as a vehicle manufacturer, while Geely Holding Group will become a strategic partner of the new company.
Baidu said that the newly formed auto company is independent from the parent company system and maintains its own operation. Moreover, Baidu holds an absolute controlling stake, which shows its financial resources and determination in vehicle manufacturing.
In terms of hard power, Baidu Auto is backed by the resources and financial strength that Baidu has accumulated in the Internet and artificial intelligence over the past 20 years.
Moreover, the new car will be based on Geely’s newly developed SEA vast architecture.
According to reports, the Haohan architecture is an original pure electric architecture built by Geely with the user travel experience as the core. After four years, it has invested more than 18 billion yuan to build it. shortened by more than 50%.
As the leader of domestic auto brands, Geely has impressive strengths in auto architecture, industrial manufacturing and supply chain. In terms of sales performance, Geely Automobile has been the sales champion of Chinese brand passenger cars for four consecutive years.
Geely can provide strong support for Baidu, whether in vehicle manufacturing or in the R&D experience of pure electric architecture.
In addition, as a company starting from the Internet field, Baidu has natural advantages in soft power such as data, software, and user ecology. and other core technologies to fully empower auto companies and support their rapid growth” deployment.
Among them, Baidu has accumulated eight years of experience in the research and development of autonomous driving technology. The autonomous driving technology incubated by Apollo will undoubtedly become part of the competitiveness of Baidu Auto in the future.
However, although Baidu has officially announced that it will end up building a car, it is never a single-choice question to build a car by itself and a moped company to build a good car.
In other words, Baidu Apollo is still open to the entire industry and to all OEMs.
Through the “car building + open cooperation” model, Baidu can form a closed loop from intelligent technology research and development to the whole vehicle, and then help the iteration of intelligent technology through feedback from the whole vehicle – from the perspective of car companies , which can be regarded as one of the advantages of Baidu Apollo.
4. Summary of Lei Feng.com
If the time goes back ten years, no one may believe that a technology Internet company can also end up leading the development of a car brand.
But today is different. With the further maturity of technology, the market is undergoing earth-shaking changes.
Based on the solid layout and strong strength of software and hardware, Baidu has effectively proved that Baidu’s car building is not a fantasy. In the eyes of investors, Baidu Auto will be a real product that can be implemented.
At the same time, Baidu Apollo is also accelerating its commercialization, helping car companies to carry out intelligent transformation, and defining the future of smart cars together with the automotive industry.
Baidu’s “car building + open cooperation” dual line may provide a different choice for the market.