The Chinese internet giant, Baidu, announced on Wednesday that it had accomplished the production of the 100th autonomous driving bus named Apolong, meaning that the company has achieved its mass production goal for such bus, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Thursday.
As the world's first Level-4 autonomous driving bus which has entered the mass production phase, Apolong was developed through the cooperation between Baidu and the Chinese bus maker, King Long.
By removing the steering wheel, accelerator and brake paddle, Baidu has largely reduced the number of hardware components in Apolong while greatly improving the software system of the bus, reflecting the rapid progress the company has made in the area of artificial intelligence (AI).
"Unlike traditional cars, autonomous driving vehicles will evolve in an unprecedented way," said Robin Li, founder and CEO of Baidu. "We can see an autonomous driving vehicle as a robot with four wheels."
"It can deliver packages, clean roads or even take care of patients in the future," Li added.
The company is planning to put Apolong into service in several Chinese and foreign cities. By cooperating with the Japanese autonomous driving technology developer, SB Drive, Baidu expects Apolong to serve as shuttle buses for employees in nuclear power plants as well as elderly people in some communities in Tokyo.
In fact, Apolong is the latest outcome of Baidu's autonomous driving development platform, Apollo, which has attracted a number of domestic and foreign automakers such as Ford, Honda and BYD to settle in.