Tech giant Baidu is collaborating with BAIC Motor Co. to build and deploy 1,000 full-electric crossovers as robotaxis over the next three years.
The robotaxi will be developed on BAIC’s Arcfox-badged Alpha-T, a 5-seat midsize electric crossover, Baidu said Thursday.
The major technology developer said its smart driving unit, Apollo, plans to cater to a total of 3 million users in China with a fleet of 3,000 robotaxis in 2023.
The Apollo Moon EV will be equipped with a host of autonomous technology -- two lidar sensors, 13 cameras, five millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, redundant computing functions -- as well as a precise failure detector and degradable processing algorithms, Baidu said.
With mass production, the manufacturing cost of the robotaxi can be lowered to 480,000 yuan ($74,650), about one-third of the cost of an average Level 4 autonomous vehicle, according to Baidu.
“The reduced cost of production will facilitate a greater degree of scalability, driving the widespread popularization and increasing commercialization of fully autonomous ride-hailing services in China,” the company said in a statement.
Baidu started to test autonomous driving technology in 2015.
The company has launched a demonstration robotaxi program in several major cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing. It plans to expand the program to include 30 cities in China over the next three years.
The primary vehicles deployed for the program in recent years are adapted from the Lincoln MKZ gasoline sedan and a Hongqi-badged full electric crossover produced by China FAW Group Corp.
In January, Baidu received permission to test driverless vehicles in California.