Things change and soon our roads will be flooded with the cars where a driver if he is present, is reading a book or a newspaper instead of making driving itself. Baidu stepped onto the pavement of such a progress that runs during the latest decade and shows it knows some stuff either. Actually, a steady stream of news was always coming from this company during the two or three latest years.
In order to run the company farther, they have just recently received the approval from the authorities of California, the USA, to make the live road tests of their driverless technology. There will be just usual streets that we walk every day.
Though, they face the same requirements as all companies that are engaged in testing their self-driving fleet: there must be a person sitting on the steering wheel of such a car and a car itself must be equipped with a system of human control fully available to take over the driving initiative when and if necessary.
To reach this goal, Baidu was working for over a year with their 100+ team of employees in the development and research center in the Silicon Valley, the US. They’ve been hiring not only from the software and hardware producers but also from the vehicle engineering and passenger car construction fields. The team located in the US was announced only 1 year before Baidu received the approval from the authorities to run the tests on Californian roads.
As it was informed earlier, Baidu along with the BMW concern invested cooperatively USD 150 million dollars in promoting the technical and technological advancement of LIDAR technology that would be installed on their cars that they want to launch fully ready in 2018. Maybe it is a reason why they are in such a big hurry, though it was also mentioned in the news that their technology is not that advanced as Google and Tesla currently have.
However, LIDAR is the essential component that is required to launch the self-driving cars. That is why its improvement is the measure without which the full-fledged launch of the technology would be impossible. In parallel to its advancement by the specialists of Velodyne company (that received this 150-million investment), Baidu raises the road experience driving its fleet of cars equipped with the latest tech. There are the same distinguishable, as the Google’s cars as they have those weird antennas on the roof that we hope will disappear in the commercial version of the vehicle.
Baidu’s SVP Jing Wang hopes that at that time when commercial scale-use of LIDAR system becomes available due to their investments, they will have enough road experience to implement it in the updated software and maybe even the increased computing power of their self-driving vehicles. He told that the Baidu’s Silicone Valley team made a great contribution to the future of the entire company and hopes that their goals will be reached in the planned timeframes.