Chinese automotive OEM Baidu has announced the launch of Apollo Air, the world’s first and only vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology that enables Level 4 (L4) autonomous driving on open public roads using roadside sensing, reflecting the rapid ascension of China’s V2X development.
Most autonomous vehicles rely entirely on their embedded perception systems to navigate through traffic, leaving limited capacity to fully examine possible problems and defects of roadside sensing. Apollo Air aims to provide reliable safety redundancy for autonomous driving via V2X
Apollo Air, developed in partnership with the Institute for AI Industry Research (AIR) at Tsinghua University, aims to augment the ingrained perception system of an autonomous vehicle by commanding its autonomous driving capabilities through vehicle-road-cloud coordination. With Apollo Air, a regular vehicle without sensor equipment can also achieve some high-level autonomous driving capabilities.
“Apollo Air enables a high degree of coordination between sensor-less vehicles, smart roads and data clouds through a series of miniature roadside sensors with 5G and V2X wireless communication technology,” said Dr Ji Tao, general manager of intelligent transportation product development at Baidu. The Apollo Air project was unveiled at an academic forum on May 13, 2021.
“Tsinghua University has been committed to breakthroughs in core AI technologies, and Apollo Air is an exploration of the V2X field in China,” said Dr Ya-Qin Zhang, Dean of AIR. In the future, Tsinghua University will further collaborate with Baidu in various fields, including technology R&D and talent development.
The team has tested Apollo Air’s capabilities in L4 autonomous driving scenarios at several upgraded intersections in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Cangzhou. Going forward, the aim is to gradually integrate parts of Apollo Air’s evolving road sensing capabilities with mass-production-ready V2X offerings and provide reliable road sensing data for robotaxi operation and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).
Baidu and AIR are pledging to provide and implement more digital infrastructure solutions to contribute towards the intelligent transformation of China’s urban transportation. Baidu will bring more efficient, green, and safe smart transportation experiences to users for a brighter tomorrow.