It’s called Apollo RT6 and it could be the next robotaxi of the future. The vehicle has a detachable steering wheel to give passengers more space and can be called with an app. This is Baidu’s first autonomous vehicle (AV) that does not require retrofit technology to a conventional car.
At the Baidu World 2022 technology conference, Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu, said, “This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles across China.” “We are moving into a future where taking a robocab will be half the cost of taking a taxi today.”
How is Apollo RT6?
This vehicle has cost significantly less than the other models. For comparison, Baidu launched Apollo Moon, its fifth-generation unmanned vehicle, in June 2021, costing around €70,000 for the vehicle and driverless kit. This battery-powered electric can accommodate between two and four passengers depending on whether the steering wheel is activated and it comes with a cost of just 36,000 euros.
According to Baidu, it’s a cross between an SUV and a minivan , offering 105cm of legroom for the two seats located at the rear of the vehicle, on a completely flat floor. Its exterior look is quite futuristic with smart electric sliding doors, which can be opened via a Bluetooth connection, password input, or a phone app.
When driving, it uses 38 sensors, including eight Light Detection and Range (LiDAR) sensors, 12 ultrasonic radars, 12 cameras and six millimeter-wave radars for accurate long-distance perception on all sides in complex urban environments. It is Baidu’s first vehicle model built on its in-house Xinghe autonomous driving platform, and it has a level 4 self-driving capability that is stronger than its previous model.
China aspires to lead in autonomous driving technology globally, but lags behind the United States in introducing such services. Alphabet’s Waymo began offering driverless taxi services in Phoenix, Arizona in 2020.