Baidu’s autonomous driving platform goes open source
‘Project Apollo’ will see the internet giant open its own self-driving tech up to the industry.
It wasn’t so long ago that Baidu was accusing “hackers for hire” of pilfering its prized autonomous driving tech. But today, the Chinese internet giant has announced that it will give it away!
Project Apollo – named after the groundbreaking lunar landing program – will provide an open, complete and reliable software platform for others in the industry to develop their own autonomous driving systems. In fact, it will provide more than just software. It will also include a vehicle platform, hardware platform, software platform and cloud data services. Thanks to Apollo, other companies will be able to avail of Baidu’s code and capabilities in areas such as obstacle perception, trajectory planning, vehicle control, vehicle operating systems and other functions while also accessing a complete set of testing tools.
And let’s not forget: Baidu aren’t exactly novices. Its own strengths lie in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and has a Silicon Valley-based unit to prove it. It also worked alongside BMW until the partnership ended due to differing ideas so it’s safe to say that the industry can certainly benefit from the mature technology on offer in this seemingly benevolent act.
"AI has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI's biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles," said Qi Lu, Group President and Chief Operating Officer at Baidu in a statement.
At the end of the day, that is the whole idea. Baidu has said it wants to build a collaborative ecosystem where companies can work together with the common goal of promoting the development and popularization of autonomous driving technology. To that end, it will also initiate a partnership alliance through Apollo, working with those who can bring to the project the most compatible vehicles, sensors and other components.
The project is expected to open the technologies up for vehicles in restricted environments in July 2017. It then plans to share technology for simple urban road conditions before gradually introducing fully autonomous driving capabilities on highways and open city roads by 2020.
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