China's Baidu Granted Permit in California to Deploy its Self-driving Test Vehicles Without Safety Drivers
【Summary】There will be a few more self-driving test vehicles on the roads in Silicon Valley without drivers behind the wheel. China’s multinational internet technology company Baidu Inc. announced on Thursday that its been granted a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test driverless vehicles without a safety driver behind the wheel on public roads in the state.
There will be a few more self-driving test vehicles on the roads in Silicon Valley without drivers behind the wheel. China's multinational internet technology company Baidu Inc. announced on Thursday that its been granted a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test driverless vehicles without a safety driver behind the wheel on public roads in the state.
Like many automakers, tech companies and startups, Baidu is testing its autonomous driving technology in Silicon Valley, which has become a hotbed in recent years for the testing of autonomous vehicles related advanced mobility technologies.
The permit allows Baidu to test two different vehicles, an autonomous driving Lincoln MKZ and Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale. This makes Baidu the first permit holder in the state to receive driverless test permits for two different models. Baidu says its due to the robustness of its AI-powered autonomous driving system. The vehicles being deployed in California have undergone extensive testing to ensure safety, functionality and reliability, the company said.
Baidu, which is often referred to as the "Google of China", has now been granted two separate DMV permits, one to operate with a safety driver onboard and the latest is to test without anyone behind the wheel.
The state of California requires that each company seeking to test self-driving vehicles on public roads apply for a permit from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Baidu becomes the latest company to be granted the permit, joining Alphabet's self-driving unit Waymo and Cruise, a San Francisco-based self-driving startup majority owned by General Motors. Startup Nuro has also received the permit to operate its compact autonomous delivery vehicles designed to carry cargo.
Baidu has been actively working on autonomous driving technology since 2013. In 2017, it launched its open Apollo platform to further advance its work. The Apollo autonomous driving platform is now widely regarded as the "Android of the Automotive Industry" and has grown to become the largest open-source autonomous driving platform in the world, according to Baidu.
Among the global automakers contributing to the Apollo platform are BMW, Ford Motor Co, Toyota, Volkswagen and Honda.
Apollo is designed to be a comprehensive, secure, all-in-one autonomous driving ecosystem that supports all of the major functions of a self-driving car. To date, contributions from Baidu's industry partners are helping to advance autonomous driving and related mobility technology.
The open Apollo platform includes 55,000 developers and 210 industry partners and has compiled more than 700,000 lines of source code related to autonomous driving.
Baidu is also testing its vehicles in China without backup drivers. On Dec 7, 2020, Apollo was granted permission by Beijing transportation authorities to conduct fully driverless road tests. Baidu was the first company permitted to conduct driverless tests on public streets in the capital city of China.
In September, Baidu Apollo received permission to test driverless vehicles in Changsha, Hunan province.
Since 2017, Baidu Apollo has built a fleet of more than 500 test vehicles driving over 7 million kilometers (4.35 million miles) in urban road testing across 27 cities worldwide. Among Baiud's plans are to launch a transportation service called Apollo Go using autonomous vehicle without drivers on board.
The Baidu Apollo Go robotaxi service is already operational in Beijing, Changsha, and Cangzhou, and has carried over 210,000 passengers so far. Baidu plans to expand the service to roughly 30 cities over the next three years.
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