Baidu Unveils Apollo RT6 Level 4 Robot

During its Baidu World 2022 technology conference today, the Chinese tech company unveiled its sixth generation self-driving car – the Apollo RT6. With a detachable steering wheel, Baidu has created a production-ready electric vehicle with Level 4 autonomous driving capability that is expected to join the Apollo Go robotic fleet next year.

Although Baidu is primarily known as the search engine giant in China, it has shifted its focus toward electric vehicles and self-driving technologies in the past several years. In fact, its Apollo ecosystem has earned over a hundred partnerships with many manufacturers and suppliers including Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen.

Additionally, the internet company has been venturing into robotics with its Apollo software. In January of 2021, Baidu announced that it was expanding from software development to producing physical electric cars, joining Geely to produce electric cars. By March, the two companies provided JIDU – a smart robotics startup out of $300 million in startup capital.

The Apollo Go passenger fleet has been offering self-flights in two years using electric vehicles modified with Baidu’s Apollo technology. Now, however, Baidu has unveiled its sixth generation of automated taxis – the first vehicle to be built entirely from the ground up.

Apollo RT6 looks to accelerate the rollout of Baidu Robotaxy

Baidu shared details of its latest self-driving robotic car in a press release following its official debut in China today.

According to AI, it has managed to bring the cost of the Apollo RT6 down to about $37,000 per EV, making it one of the most affordable EV options, as well as some of the most advanced autonomous driving technologies. Robin Lee, co-financier and CEO of Baidu explained:

This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of vehicles across China. We are moving towards a future where riding robots will be half the cost of riding a taxi today.

Here are some noteworthy specifications of the Apollo RT6:

  • Designed for fully autonomous driving, with a detachable steering wheel that allows more space for passengers
    • According to Baidu: Allows the installation of additional seats, vending machines, desktop computers or game consoles
  • L4 self-driving capable, 1200 TOPS of computing power, and sensor architecture to handle complex urban environments
    • 38 sensors: 8 LiDARs, 6mm waveform radar, 12 ultrasonic radar and 12 cameras
  • Sensors are seamlessly integrated into the panoramic glass roof
  • The industry’s first complete seven-layer iteration throughout an EV
  • Interactive lights indicate key signals to communicate with passengers and other vehicles on the road

According to Baidu, it aims to deploy a large fleet of RT6 EVs in trial run on the Apollo Go robotaxi network in the second half of 2023. From there, the RT6 fleet size is expected to continuously grow from 10,000 units to 100,000 units.

Since its initial launch in 2020, Apollo Go has expanded to 10 cities in China and has served over a million flights. Baidu plans to expand its robotic taxi transportation service to 65 cities by 2025 and 100 cities in 2030. Apollo RT6 will certainly be a part of this expansion.

Check out Baidu’s official robotaxi launch video below:

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