Apollo Lite can process “vast” amounts of data generated by 10 cameras to detect objects up to 700 feet away while delivering real-time, 360-degree sensing of the environment. In tests on public roads in Beijing, vehicles relying on Apollo Lite managed to drive even without lidar.
A strictly vision-based approach to autonomous driving is one advocated by Intel’s Mobileye, which is developing a custom accelerator processor chip — EyeQ5 — that offers 360-degree coverage courtesy proprietary algorithms, cameras, and ultrasonic. Similarly, driverless semi truck startup TuSimple says its camera-based technology (which employs lidar largely for redundancy) has a 1,000-meter detection range.
Apollo is now being tested, contributed to, or deployed by Intel, Nvidia, NXP, and over 130 global partners. (That’s an uptick from 116 partners in July 2018.)
Among the growing body of collaborators is California-based Udelv, which in January said it would deploy up to 100 autonomous delivery vehicles developed on Apollo 3.5 to U.S. cities in 2019, including the San Francisco Bay Area. Other Apollo adoptees include Volvo and Ford, both of which have committed to testing Apollo-powered self-driving vehicles on Chinese roads in 2019.
Baidu is also working with Chinese automobile manufacturers Chery, BYD Auto, and Great Wall, in addition to Hyundai Kia, Ford, and VM Motori, to roll out Apollo Enterprise solutions to cars. FAW Group, which develops the Hongqi line of luxury cars, is another close partner — it last year announced plans to launch a “limited number” of Apollo vehicles across China in the next year.
Baidu intends to achieve “full autonomy” on highways and urban roads by 2020.
Local competition includes Beijing-based Pony.ai, which has raised $214 million in venture capital to date and which in early April launched a driverless taxi pilot in Guangzhou.