On May 18th, 2021, Baidu Apollo and Hesai signed a strategic cooperation agreement. Baidu Apollo will customize Hesai lidar for its fifth-generation robotaxi. The two parties will also collaborate on the application of hybrid solid-state lidar.
The customized lidar is a key component for Baidu Apollo’s fifth-generation robotaxi, which will be used for commercialized autonomous driving operations. Comparing to the general version, the customized version has improved performance, while having a nearly 50% reduced cost.
The accuracy of the customized lidar has been increased to ± 2cm, while its effective sensing distance is 1.5 times higher than other market-leading products. The security system of the customized lidar can provide nearly a hundred types of fault diagnosis, as well as surface dirt detection function. In addition, its active network protection mechanism can effectively prevent point cloud data from being tampered, and the lidar’s internal storage, communication and logic units from being imitated, ensuring the safety of operating vehicles.
Furthermore, Baidu Apollo's customized lidars will be deployed in multi-city setting and in large-scale operations. To meet the needs of intelligent management and long distance iteration updates, these lidars will simultaneously support OTA, greatly reducing operation and maintenance costs.
Baidu Apollo's fifth-generation robotaxi will start road-testing as soon as June, with mass production planned for the third quarter of 2021. The mass-produced robotaxi has seen a 10-time increase in performance, while reducing cost by half.
Wang Yunpeng, Vice President of Baidu, said:
“Baidu Apollo and ecological partners’ common goal is to provide a clear and fast path for the implementation and mass production of autonomous driving technology. Hesai has leading product performance, after-sales service, equipment maintenance, safety redundancy, and system monitoring. The two parties will collaborate on the mass production of customized key components, opening up a new chapter for autonomous driving.”
Li Yifan, CEO of Hesai, said:
“As a leading autonomous driving company, Baidu Apollo promotes growth in the industry. Hesai fills the void on the market by providing high-performance, mass-produced, customizable and strong stability lidars. It is a pleasure to provide Baidu Apollo's fifth-generation robotaxi with customized lidars, assisting Baidu Apollo in the application of autonomous driving business.”
Currently, Apollo GO, Baidu Apollo’s autonomous driving service, has started large-scale operation in Changsha, Cangzhou, and Beijing. In addition, it will start operation in Guangzhou and Shanghai soon. By the end of 2020, Apollo GO has received more than 210,000 passengers. On May 2, 2021, Baidu Apollo has started full time commercial operation of its robotaxi in Beijing. In the next three years, Baidu Apollo plans to launch 3,000 robotaxis in 30 cities.