Artificial Intelligence: Chinese Internet Giant Baidu Launches Robocar and AI Chip

At Baidu World 2021 conference the company launched a concept autonomous vehicle, an AI chip, and a rebranded robotaxi service.

Baidu Inc (NASDAQ: BIDU), the Chinese tech company known for its internet search service and AI focus, presented a concept two-seater “Robocar” at its annual Baidu World 2021 conference on Wednesday. The futuristic, AI-packed car does not have a steering wheel, nor gas or brake pedals, but is big enough for a passenger to stretch out for a nap. (Nikkei Asia)

In an accompanying demonstration, Baidu showed off the car’s paces – it could make a U-turn, change directions if the passenger modified the destination, and avoid obstacles – all in real time.

Baidu to reinvent itself as an EV maker

The car will be an important part of Baidu’s transformation from being mainly an internet company to a technology company that manufactures autonomous electric vehicles (EVs) using AI. The move comes amidst a slowdown in the company’s main search engine business from softer advertising revenues.

“We believe that cars of the future will be robocars,” said Baidu CEO and Chairman Robin Li to the audience participating virtually.

Baidu has in place an EV manufacturing JV, Jidu Auto, with automaker Geely (HKG: 0175). Baidu will invest as much as 50 billion yuan ($7.71 billion) over the coming five years in the JV.

The search giant plans to display a concept at the Beijing Auto Show in 2022, and accept orders later in that year.

Apollo App for robot taxi services

Baidu has also rebranded its Apollo Go robotaxi service to “Luobo Kuaipao,” or in a rough translation – “the radish runs fast.”

The rebranding comes as the company scales up the service on a mass scale within two years. Currently, the service is available only in some cities including Guangzhou and Beijing.

Baidu already has in place another partnership with Chinese company BAIC Group that will build 1,000 driverless cars for use in a robot taxi service spanning China.

Baidu’s advanced AI chip

Baidu also announced at the conference the mass production of Kunlun II, its second-gen AI chip that has 2-3X times the computational ability of the first Kunlun chip.

According to The Register, 7nm process chip has a maximum power consumption of 120W and will be used by the company both for in-house applications and for external sales.

The chip will find use in autonomous driving, biocomputing, cloud services, smart cities, and smart industry.

Related Story:  Baidu And Geely Tie Up To Make ‘Smart’ EVs

Images credit: Baidu Twitter

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