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September 27, 2017

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Baidu launches Apollo, opens self-drive platform

Baidu Inc announced a new project-Apollo-to open up its autonomous driving platform to its partners, a move to promote the development of self-driving technology.

It plans to introduce fully autonomous driving capacities on highways and urban roads by 2020, the company said.

By opening up the platform, the company aims to build a collaborative ecosystem, utilizing its strengths in artificial intelligence technology to work together with other companies to accelerate the popularization of autonomous driving technology.

It said the Apollo project will provide a complete hardware and software service solution, which includes a vehicle platform, hardware platform, software platform and cloud data services.

Baidu will also open the source code and capabilities in the fields of obstacle perception, trajectory planning, vehicle control, vehicle operating systems, and provide a complete set of testing tools.

"AI has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI's biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles," said Lu Qi, Baidu's president and chief operating officer.

According to the scheme, Baidu will first open its autonomous driving technology on a limited basis in July and then share its technology for cars in simple urban road conditions at the end of the year. It will gradually introduce fully autonomous driving capabilities on highways and urban roads by 2020.

Baidu has invested heavily in the research and development of autonomous driving technology since 2015. In December 2015, Baidu conducted successful road tests for its fully autonomous cars on highways and roads in Beijing.

It received an autonomous vehicle testing permit in California in September, and conducted open trial operations of its autonomous car fleet in November at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.

Chen Anning, general manager of Chery Automobile Co, a Chinese automobile manufacturer, said the research and development of autonomous driving technology has a very high threshold. "Baidu's opening of its platform is of great significance to the automotive industry and Chery welcomes this move."

He said cooperation between car brands and internet technology companies would gradually generate greater innovations and benefit both sides.

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