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Tesla rival alert: Baidu autonomous robotaxi with detachable steering wheel is coming to China

Baidu Apollo RT6
Image credits: Baidu

Chinese search engine giant Baidu, on Thursday, unveiled its next-generation fully autonomous vehicle (AV) Apollo RT6, an all-electric vehicle with a detachable steering wheel.

As per the company, Apollo RT6 is designed for a complex urban environment and will be in operation in China in 2023 on Apollo Go, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing service. The cost per unit is RMB 250,000 ( approx $37,000) for the Apollo RT6.

Apollo RT6 was built on Xinghe, Baidu’s self-developed automotive E/E architecture for fully autonomous driving. On the other hand, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company is also planning to start the mass production of its robotaxi without steering or pedals in 2024.

“This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of AVs across China. We are moving towards a future where taking a robotaxi will be half the cost of taking a taxi today,” says Robin Li, Co-founder, and CEO of Baidu, at Baidu World 2022, the company’s flagship technology conference.

At 4760mm long with a wheelbase of 2830mm, the rider-first Apollo RT6 delivers comfort with independent rear seating, ample rear legroom of 1050mm, a flat floor, and an intelligent interaction system.

Apollo RT6 features an L4 autonomous driving system, powered by automotive-grade dual computing units with a computing power of up to 1200 TOPS. The vehicle utilizes 38 sensors, including 8 LiDARs and 12 cameras, to obtain highly accurate, long-range detection on all sides.

Speaking at Baidu World 2022, Zhenyu Li, senior corporate vice president of Baidu and general manager of Intelligent Driving Group (IDG), said the autonomous driving capability of Apollo RT6 is equivalent to a skilled driver with 20 years of experience.

As the world’s largest robotaxi service provider, Apollo Go has expanded to 10 cities in China since its launch in 2020, including all first-tier cities, and provided more than 1 million orders.

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