Baidu has recently revealed that its robocar is capable of level 5 (L5) autonomous driving functionality. In other words, this means the vehicle with no steering wheel and automatic gull-wing doors doesn’t need a human to operate. It can drive independently with the same capability as a human driver. In fact, it could be safer than human drivers too. Autonomous driving functionality is categorised from levels 1 to 5, with L5 indicating the most intelligent technology. At present, there are no L5 autonomous vehicles on the roads. Most robotaxis services have L4 autonomy, which means they can perform driving tasks but only in certain circumstances.
At the Chinese tech giant’s annual technology conference a few days ago, Baidu CEO Robin Li said that the firm believes that cars of the future will be robocars, which “will drive autonomously, act as both an intelligent assistant and loyal companion, and be self-learning,” as per a press release.
On the design of the robocar, the company states that it’s “a dramatic break from traditional vehicles, and even from existing autonomous vehicles on the market.” The car has automated gull-wing doors and a transparent glass roof, all integrated with external sensors.
When it comes to the interiors, the notable aspect is the missing steering wheel and foot pedals. That apart, the interiors have zero-gravity seats and a large curved intelligent display with a control pad.
These features, along with voice, facial recognition and advanced AI technology, make the robocar capable of analysing the internal and external surroundings and making suggestions accordingly to serve the needs of the passengers, states Baidu.
The company went on to state that the robocar will not just be a vehicle, but it’d also be a “driver, secretary, personal assistant.” Baidu added in the press release, “It will drive automatically, understand your words, take orders, and continuously learn from you and upgrade to serve you a more personalised experience.”
The company said that its autonomous driving service, Apollo — which has been running in cities across China for two years — had made over 400,000 rides.