There have been many discussions in the online environment on autonomous cars, but we can only really talk about such vehicles right now. China’s Baidu online giant announced at the Baidu conference that it has entered into a partnership with the Japanese SoftBank giant to launch the first autonomous buses. The order has already been made for 10 such units, which will be delivered in 2019.
Aplong buses have been unveiled for some time, but for the first time they will be on the streets in Japan from next year. They use Baidu Apollo’s autonomous driving system, which is capable of level 4 autonomy . This means that the system drives without the help of a driver, but there are some conditions that need to be met.
While buses will carry human passengers, they are small in size and can only be found in tourist areas, airports, and other “controlled” areas, where fewer hazards can occur. Baidu is only the manufacturer, the autonomous bus operator being SB Drive, a subsidiary of SoftBank.
Apolong buses are developed at King Long’s factory in Xiamen City and will be exported to Japan. These will be the first “export” vehicles produced by the Chinese. After the ten units in Japan, Baidu prepares a local launch in Beijing, Shenzen, Pingtan and Wuhan, all centers around technology development.