Updated: Jul 24, 2022
AI company Baidu unveiled its next-generation fully autonomous vehicle (AV) Apollo RT6, an all-electric, production-ready ‘Robo-taxi’ with a detachable steering wheel.
Designed for ‘complex’ urban environments, Apollo RT6 will be put into operation in China in 2023 on Apollo Go, Baidu's autonomous ride-hailing service. With a per unit cost of $37,000, the arrival of Apollo RT6 may accelerate AV deployment at scale, bringing the world closer to a future of driverless shared mobility.
Robin Li, Co-founder and CEO of Baidu, said: “This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of AVs across China. We are moving towards a future where taking a robotaxi will be half the cost of taking a taxi today.”
As Baidu's 6th generation AV, Apollo RT6 is distinct from previous generations that were otherwise retrofitted on conventional vehicles. The steering wheel-free design provides more space to craft unique interiors, allowing for the installation of extra seating, vending machines, desktops, or gaming consoles. At 4760mm long with a wheelbase of 2830mm, the rider-first Apollo RT6 delivers comfort with independent rear seating, ample rear legroom of 1050mm, a purely flat floor and an intelligent interaction system. The Apollo RT6 exterior features a revolutionary look that seamlessly integrates sensors on the sunroof alongside interactive lights and intelligent electric sliding doors to further enhance the riding experience.
Apollo RT6 integrates Baidu's most advanced L4 autonomous driving system, powered by automotive-grade dual computing units with a computing power of up to 1200 TOPS. The vehicle utilises 38 sensors, including 8 LiDARs and 12 cameras, to obtain highly accurate, long-range detection on all sides. The safety and reliability of Apollo RT6 are backed by a massive trove of real-world data, a total test mileage of over 32 million kilometers driven by Baidu's AV to date.
Speaking at Baidu World 2022, Zhenyu Li, senior corporate vice president of Baidu and general manager of Intelligent Driving Group (IDG), said the autonomous driving capability of Apollo RT6 is equivalent to a skilled driver with 20 years of experience.