China is looking to outsmart America in race to autonomous cars.
Jidu Auto, the EV firm owned by Baidu - China's answer to Google - is setting the bar high for autonomous driving, claiming that its autonomous driving technology will be one generation ahead of Tesla.
"Our understanding of smart vehicles is that being electric is the semi-final while being intelligent is the final," Robin Li, chief executive of Baidu, said in a statement.
Baidu already supports the electronics of cars like the Apollo RT6, which is confident enough for you to detach the steering wheel to let it act as your chauffeur.
The long-term goal of Jidu Auto is to put 800,000 cars on the road by 2028.
Recently, the company showed its first model, the Robo-1 to showcase what's to come. It features two Lidar sensors, 12 surrounding cameras, and no door handles. Every function pertaining to the car will be utilized through voice control.
Inside, a massive screen sits atop the dashboard while the steering wheel's presence isn't prominent. Although presently a concept, the Robo-1 is slated for production in 2023.
To support its EV ambitions, Baidu has the backing of Geely, the co-founder of Jidu Auto who also has a controlling stake in Volvo.
This is no coincidence as the Swedish company has been playing with technology related to self-driving for years now. You can often see a Volvo XC90 being used as a test mule for developing new stuff. It can pay off to a greater extent in China now that Geely has a net worth of billions of dollars.
Can they pull it off? Well, Baidu technology already plays an essential role in the lives of Chinese commuters. Its autonomous taxi service Go Robotaxi has been operating in various cities for almost a couple of years now. A self-reliant EV for consumers is the next step.