Baidu introduces world’s first multi-modal autonomous driving MaaS platform in Guangzhou, China

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Baidu has partnered with the Guangzhou Huangpu District government to roll out the world’s first multi-modal autonomous driving MaaS platform. By integrating an assortment of autonomous driving services to provide travel recommendations, this diverse platform can holistically optimise the travelling experience of users in line with combined platform strategies.

Comprising over 40 autonomous vehicles, the collective fleet has deployed five different model types – Robotaxi, Robobus, Apolong, Apollocop and New Species Vehicle – to begin comprehensively serving the city during the bustling holiday period. Most vehicles have safety drivers except the new species vehicles in compliance with local regulations. The minibus Apolong has no brake pedal or steering wheel, just a touchscreen interface to control it.

Citizens are able to make reservations on the Baidu Maps and Apollo Go mobile applications to witness these new exciting autonomous driving initiatives and experience the convenience brought on by intelligent transportation technology. With the ability to cover a variety of usage scenarios, the MaaS platform ecosystem can meet the diverse needs of many citizens during their holiday sightseeing, shopping and celebratory outings.

Baidu Apollo has established over 50 Robotaxi pickup stations in the district, providing users with easy access to Chinese New Year festival sites using autonomous vehicles. Simultaneously, a batch of New Species Vehicles are cruising around the city, tasked with unmanned retail, as well as routine cleaning and disinfection.

Fully autonomous street sweepers are part of the new fleet

Apolong minibuses will shuttle eager sightseers to the flower blossoms around scenic parks and lakes. Meanwhile, Apollocop patrols the main roads near key areas and the Baidu Robobus will ferry passengers along fixed routes, facilitating community travels towards festive destinations.

Baidu’s prowess in intelligent transportation is not solely limited to autonomous vehicles; it is complemented by a reliable intelligent network consisting of AI roadside infrastructure and a dynamic digital-twin cloud platform, fostering better mobility and travel prospects for the local community. Real-time signal light information such as stoplight countdowns, traffic event alerts and intersection queue length are broadcasted on both the interactive monitors embedded in Robobus or Robotaxi cabins as well as the exterior screens fixed on the rear of Robobuses. Additionally, users can utilize the Baidu Maps app or DuerOS-powered smart rearview mirrors to receive voice alerts of electronic fence monitoring, access signal light reminders, live traffic event venue broadcasting and other connected online services.

Apolong minibuses operate without the need for a safety driver

The ACE Transportation Engine – a full-stack solution that stands for Autonomous Driving, Connected Road, Efficient Mobility – has been introduced to improve the traffic flow around the district, reflecting Guangzhou’s status as a centre of smart transportation. A large ACE smart traffic electronic display has been set up on a prominent skyscraper to visually display the AI solutions at work; from the coordination of smart transportation for local commuters by the transportation bureau, to the intricate traffic management maintained by law enforcement, the technology is being brought to life and exhibited to the inhabitants of Guangzhou.

Apollo robotaxis operate in the new MaaS ecosystem with a safety driver

Going forward, Baidu will continue conducting regular trial operations by additionally deploying over 100 Robotaxis and establishing almost 1,000 pickup stations in Guangzhou Huangpu District; this will allow local citizens to continue utilizing autonomous driving services in their daily lives, in lieu of similar Robotaxi programs implemented in Beijing, Changsha, Cangzhou and other areas of China.

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).