Baidu Inc. has revealed its vision of a fully autonomous vehicle — an all-electric, production-ready car with a detachable steering wheel.
Called the Apollo RT6, Baidu aims to put the fully autonomous vehicle into operation in China in 2023 via Apollo Go, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing service. Baidu said the Apollo RT6 is the sixth-generation autonomous vehicle from the company and is different in that the other versions were retrofitted on conventional vehicles.
The Apollo RT6 is the first model built on Xinghe, Baidu’s self-developed automotive E/E architecture specifically built for fully autonomous driving. Xinghe is 100% automotive-grade and has full redundancy throughout both hardware and autonomous driving software.
This autonomous vehicle includes the first steering wheel-free design, allowing more space for the interior and installation of extra seating, vending machines, desktops or gaming consoles.
The vehicle will include Baidu’s Level 4 autonomous driving system with a computing power of up to 1200 TOPS along with 38 sensors including eight lidars and 12 cameras. This allows the vehicle to have an accurate detection of its environment on all sides.
In the video, the animated look at the Apollo RT6 shows a cockpit that features no steering wheel and space for people to work or play games or lay down for a nap.
Baidu was one of the first companies to begin offering robotaxi services in Beijing, China, with 100 pick-up and drop off locations back in 2020. It then started opening rides to the public in Guangzhou, China, with an on-demand service through Apollo Go.
In 2021, Baidu became the first company to start charging for robotaxi service in Beijing with its autonomous vehicles used to transport people to sports arenas, restaurants, shops and places of work.
Earlier this year, Baidu and Pony.ai became the first companies in China to test driverless robotaxis without a safety driver, also in Beijing.