Baidu, the Internet giant from China, has made tests of its fleet of driverless cars. The tourist destination Wuzhen city was chosen for this issue, as it is not too populated, only 60 thousand people live there, and has the broad streets with nice asphalt cover. The cars were all equipped with LIDARs by Velodyne company, cameras, and millimeter wave sensors. The entire batch was located on the roof of the vehicle making the fleet painted in blue and white look no too advantageous if to compare with the other models by Ford or Tesla that currently running the streets of the US cities – the latest were more commercially-tuned since their first rides.
The trunk of these cars includes the computing capabilities to embrace the entire data coming from the sensors that allow making a car ‘see’ the environment.
People, who were invited to take a ride inside a car as passengers, told that the car made quite smooth start and braking, though it was a little bit noisy during the movement. Baidu will have to enhance the level of noise in the salon to make the self-driving cars attractive enough for the public.
The operators were sitting in front of the steering wheel of every of 18 cars, but, according to the Executive from Baidu, they never had to overtake control and even touch the wheel during the ride. The cars performed the U-turns and were speeding up to 50 and 60 kilometers per hour – up to the very limit of the allowed speed in the city area.
As a vice-president of Baidu, Wang Jing told, the current tests were more efficient and close to the scenarios of the real life, comparing to the ones performed in Beijing, where cars covered only 30 kilometers and were continuing for 40 minutes. The next tests in line will be on the real roads of California, allowances to which have already been received from the local Californian authorities.
Baidu has plans to roll out the commercial use of the driverless cars in 2021 and make a gradual step towards this goal in 2018 when they’ll release some limited-capabilities cars that may be called prototypes. In order to achieve this goal, they are actively engaging in the developments and researches, thanks to their tech team located in the Silicon Valley from the December of 2015. The team currently embraces over 100 specialists that, according to Baidu’s executives, move the company largely ahead.