Jidu Auto, the electric vehicle (EV) venture controlled by Baidu, on Wednesday rolled out a “robot” concept car, the first vehicle unveiled by a Chinese internet firm.
The car, which doesn’t have door handles and can be controlled by voice recognition, was launched at an online press conference held on Baidu’s metaverse-themed app Xirang.
Jidu, co-funded by Chinese automaker Geely, plans to mass produce the model, which would be 90% similar to the concept car, next year.
The ‘robot’ EVs will possess autonomous Level 4 capabilities that need no human intervention as well as utilize Qualcomm’s 8295 chips, which will enable users to access voice assistance offline when internet connection is poor.
Baidu’s EV plan comes as tech companies around the world race to develop ‘smart’ cars after Tesla’s success in commercialising electric vehicles.
Autonomous Driving Technology
Besides equipping the vehicle with autonomous driving software technology powered by Baidu, Jidu will also build two lidars and 12 cameras alongside the car. Lidars are detection systems, similar to radars, which use pulsed laser light rather than radio waves.
“The Jidu robocar aims to meet users’ needs for intelligent travel … and intelligent cabin in the new era,” said Joe Xia Yiping, Jidu’s chief executive, who added that “the ultimate goal is to realise a fully driverless transportation experience.”
Jidu cars will target users who like cutting-edge technologies, Luo Gang, head of operations at Jidu, said in an interview on Wednesday.
The EVs will be manufactured in Hangzhou Bay in China’s eastern city of Ningbo, where Geely has several plants.
Jidu has hired ex-Cadillac designer Frank Wu as its head of design, and Wang Weibao, a former member of Apple’s EV initiative Project Titan, as its head of intelligent driving.
Jidu’s first model will be priced above 200,000 yuan ($30,000), Baidu chief executive Robin Li said on a conference call last month.
Smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp and Didi Global are among other Chinese tech giants who are pursuing auto-making ambitions.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
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