Chinese driverless buses roll
China’s Baidu has unveiled its first 100 self-driving minibuses. The company is gearing up to launch driverless bus offerings in Beijing, Xiongan and Shenzhen in China, as well as in Tokyo.
The Apolong buses, developed jointly by Baidu, which is busy building its artificial intelligence capabilities, and vehicle maker King Long United Automotive Industry, can seat up to 14 people.
The first fleet will be deployed in geo-fenced locations such as parks, industrial campuses and airports in China. In Japan, SB Drive, the autonomous vehicles R&D unit of SoftBank, has been testing Apolong in Okinawa as part of the government’s Autonomous Driving System initiative.
"In Japan, public transportation is facing a number of challenges, including traffic network reduction, driver shortage and driver ageing, says Yuki Saji, CEO of SB Drive. “We expect self-driving technology will solve these problems in the near future.”
The vehicles are based on Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving platform launched in July 2017, and Apollo-driven vehicles have been on road tests since late last year. The company has already snagged 116 global partners for Apollo, among them including Ford, Bosch, Intel, NVIDIA and Microsoft.