Baidu is the first among the major global technology players to open its technology and platform to the industry.
Via this methodology, Baidu plans on constructing an ecosystem of give and take.
Using Baidu's software will also give vehicle makers access to critical high-quality mapping technology in China, a space that foreign technology companies have made little inroads in.
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The name Apollo has been taken from NASA's lunar landing program.
Baidu will expose tools for obstacle perception, trajectory planning, vehicle control, and even operating systems, according to a statement. the first technology in July.
Other functions include a set of testing implements which will prove useful. Mr. Lu said it is on track to deliver autonomous commercial vehicles in 2018 and will mass produce self-driving vehicles by the end of 2020.
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Baidu's interest in the space is only a few years old, investing and researching in autonomous vehicles in 2015. It has also received permits for taking its self-driving vehicles for test-runs in restricted areas.
But the decision makes sense given the nature of China's domestic vehicle market, which is also the largest auto market in the world.
Baidu will be eagerly awaiting the demand in the market for its self-driving cars since this would be a clear signal to start churning out these fine steel and glass automobiles on a regular basis. "It has many vehicle brands and an open environment that is ripe for collaboration".
From July this year, Baidu's partners in the auto industry will be able to use its platform - known as Apollo, in honour of the U.S. moon missions - to develop their own autonomous driving systems.
In the reshuffle of Baidu's senior management team earlier this year, Wang was kicked out of the game, with the autonomous driving unit integrated into the company's Intelligent Driving Group or IDG. While much of the technology required to develop a self-driving auto will be made freely available, certain features, which Lu says will include some mapping and machine-learning services, will be accessible through an application programming interface that Baidu will control.
Qi Lu claims an open, innovative industry ecosystem initiated will accelerate the development of autonomous driving throughout the world, just in time for what many predict is an imminent technological revolution. Baidu believes autonomous driving is similar in terms of its potential to transform the world.
The project aims to provide a complete solution to autonomous driving including the hardware, software solutions along with cloud data services. This coupled with an open platform and reduced hardware costs means autonomous driving may become popular faster than we can imagine.