China : robot-taxis take the road

For almost a month, dozens of robot-taxis have been in operation in ten major cities of China. Marketed by Baidu, the chinese firm has just unveiled its latest jewel : a 100% autonomous and electric minivan.

They detect danger faster than the human eye,” says Xu Chao, Baidu’s intelligent transportation manager. Named the Apollo RT6, this car adds itself to a long list of autonomous shuttles. In 2021, California-based Waymo, a subsidiary company of Google, created one of the world’s first models. A few months later, General Motors released about 30 self-driving taxis on the streets of San Francisco.  

Baidu robot-taxis are ahead 

Succeeding the Apollo Moon, an old model dating from June 2021, the Apollo RT6 has achieved a level 4 autonomous driving. 

What is level 4 autonomous driving ? 

At this point, the driver is no longer required. The car is entirely responsible. They are allowed to drive under certain circumstances.
The vehicle system calculates all the actions it will perform, from maneuvers to decisions in a changing environment.
The steering wheel and pedals are no longer necessary. These cars cannot drive on all roads, and they have a defined perimeter. 
Apollo RT6 interior
Apollo RT6’s interior

Equipped with a radar, a dozen cameras and 8 LIDAR sensors, the Apollo RT6 is able to analyze 360 degrees data around the car. Baidu claims that the car drives as well as a chauffeur with twenty years of experience. This new robot taxi can be purchased for 36,000 dollars. Unlike the Apollo Moon, which is worth 71,000 dollars. Tested over 32 kilometers, the Apollo RT6 remains for the moment a prototype.

radar lidar
Radar with LIDAR sensors

Baidu is Elon Musk’s new competition ?  

While the Chinese firm has already created an autonomous electric car and bus, the famous Tesla brand has not even unveiled the design of its first robot taxi. Scheduled for 2024, one kilometer of Elon Musk’s taxi should cost less than a bus ticket. The Californian company is expected to reveal more about their robot taxi in next year. 

To remember : 

Apollo RT6 is a Baidu car 
It has level 4 of autonomous driving 
It costs 36,000 dollars
Baidu has also created an autonomous and electric bus 
Elon Musk plans to release the design of his robot taxi during the next year 

If you want to test autonomous driving, go to Movo Car Rental. There you will find Teslas 3, Y, and other models of electric cars, all ready to be rented.

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