Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, says its electric vehicle firm Jida Auto is going to be one step ahead of Tesla in the development of advanced autonomous driving technologies.
Soon after Baidu unveiled its new Apollo RT6 minivan, Baidu chief executive Robin Li said that the carmaker is coming after Tesla.
“Our understanding of smart vehicles is that being electric is the semi-final while being intelligent is the final,” he said.
The Apollo RT6 comes equipped with 8 LiDAR sensors and 12 cameras to enable Level 4 autonomous driving. By comparison, Tesla uses a camera-based system and Elon Musk has frequently dismissed the need for LiDAR, despite much of the industry believing that the laser-based systems are needed to achieve full autonomy.
Baidu says that the Apollo RT6 has almost 20 million miles (32 million km) of testing under its belt and can drive as well as a human with 20 years of experience behind the wheel.
The company will deploy the RT6 through its Apollo Go robotaxi service which operates in 10 cities and has already provided more than 1 million rides.
Speaking with Reuters, Jida Auto chief executive Joe Xia Yiping said the company wants to deliver 800,000 examples of its robotaxi in 2028. It is also readying a second model for mass production in 2024.
In early 2022, Baidu lifted the veil on its first all-electric heavy-duty truck. The vehicle is known as the Xingtu and was designed by Pininfarina. It is equipped with a 450 kWh battery pack and can travel up to 186 miles (300 km) on a single charge when fully loaded. It is also equipped with an advanced semi-autonomous driving suite with 11 onboard cameras, one infrared detector, five millimeter-wave radars, and a LiDAR sensor.