Autonomous vehicles: Baidu released groundbreaking software platform
Baidu, the China-based tech giant, has released the newest iteration of its widely used open-source autonomous driving platform Apollo — which has been dubbed Apollo 1.5, appropriately enough
By James Ayre
Accompanying the announcement of this new release, the company revealed that it was creating a 10 billion RMB (~$1.5 billion) “Apollo Fund” — which will be used to invest into 100 or so self-driving vehicle projects over the next 3 years or so.
The new iteration of the Apollo open-source platform introduces 5 more “core capabilities,” including: obstacle perception, planning, cloud simulation, High-Definition (HD) maps, and End-to-End deep learning.
The press release provides more: “The obstacle perception capability enables vehicles to accurately identify obstacles during both day and night. With the planning capability, vehicles can plan the correct driving path and make optimal driving decisions. The cloud simulation system on Apollo is the only platform that provides open, built-in HD maps tailored for autonomous driving. Based on large scale cloud computing capacity, Apollo has a vast amount of real traffic data in China, and has a virtual running capacity of one million kilometers per day.
“Apollo is widely regarded as the ‘Android of the auto industry.’ First announced in April, Apollo is an open platform that provides a comprehensive, secure, and reliable all-in-one solution that supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle. Its first iteration, Apollo 1.0, with capabilities enabling vehicles to do autonomous waypoint driving in enclosed venues, was announced in July at Baidu’s inaugurate AI Developers Conference in Beijing.
“Over the past 2 months, Apollo has seen dozens of code updates each week and the addition of more than 65,000 lines of new code. At the same time, Apollo has received a positive response from global developers. To date, more than 1,300 companies have downloaded Apollo source code and nearly 100 companies have applied for open data via the Apollo website.”
To date, the Apollo program has garnered itself 70 partners around the world, including Hyundai and numerous other OEMs, suppliers, and startups. In concert with this, Baidu has now signed more than 50 cooperation agreements various partners, concerning different production or development plans.
Here’s more on that from the press release: “King Long, a Xiamen-based commercial vehicle manufacturer, performed autonomous waypoint driving in enclosed venues using buses deployed with Apollo’s 1.0 capabilities. Momenta, a Beijing-based autonomous driving startup, successfully conducted testing on designated lanes using Apollo 1.5 enabled cars, which were able to accurately recognize obstacles, passengers, and make optimal decisions even at night when visibility is very low.”
Accompanying the above discussed announcements, Baidu also revealed that the LiDAR tech firm Velodyne will be supplying Apollo users and partners with priority access to technical support, product purchase, and various forms of relevant information.