It’s odd that the search engine company referred to as the “Google of China” says that its open-source autonomous driving platform Apollo is that the “Android of the auto industry.” but that is specifically what Baidu is trying to be with Apollo and it’s racking up partners worldwide (including Ford, Daimler, NVIDIA and others) to make it a reality.
At an event in Sunnyvale, California, the search company unveiled apollo 1.5, its latest version of its autonomous driving platform. The new version supports HD maps, LiDAR, obstacle detection and deep learning technologies. All of which, just like the rest of the platform, is open source and modular so developers will pick and choose what they require to use in their own systems.
But it isn’t a totally open system. At some point a developer can have to contribute to the platform to access more of the info for their own needs. It seems like a fair trade. Why build up your entire stack on the backs of others without at being an active a part of the community?
Baidu has big plans for Apollo. It expects it’ll be powerful enough for level three car on the road by 2019, and primed for Level four vehicle in 2021. It’s an impressive feat for a company that is not even building cars… and also in line with Google’s own autonomous car plans, its us counterpart.