Self-driving technology is one of the most interesting topics in the automobile space apart from EVs.
With big tech companies like Google and Tesla all working towards achieving this futuristic accomplishment whereby humans will get to rely solely on their cars to get from one place to the other automatically, China’s biggest search engine service Baidu has the same vision in the country.
In a recent report, Baidu’s VP and COO of Intelligent driving division Wei Dong stated that self-driving cars will eventually take over and produce a much safer environment for commuters compared to conventional driving.
“Autonomous driving will offer a safer and more reliable driving experience than human drivers,” he told a forum on future mobility in Shanghai on Saturday. “Still the tech cannot ensure that no accidents will occur.”
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There have been growing concerns over the safety of self-driving cars leading to Dong making those remarks during the China International Import Expo (CIIE).
Baidu in its quest to create a safe self-driving situation in the near future launched the world’s largest open-source autonomous driving platform which it calls Apollo about four years ago.
With different EV automakers in China, adding autonomous technology to the midst makes everything perfect.
In January the Beijing-based tech behemoth set up Jidu Auto, a venture with leading mainland carmaker Geely, which plans to launch its first electric vehicle (EV) for mass production in 2024.
Afterward, the company’s second-generation vehicles are expected to make use of complete digital technologies which include AI, voice controls, and IoT features which are poised to make future EVs smarter and safer.
An accident on August 12 in which a 31-year-old entrepreneur was killed triggered worries about the safety of the navigation-on-pilot (NOP) system fitted in an ES8 sport-utility vehicle (SUV) assembled by a Chinese EV start-up NIO.
The accident occurred while the NOP system was turned on, NIO said.
The technology behind NOP is based on algorithms that analyze traffic data collected in real-time and onboard sensors.
“Environment detection” sensors can help a vehicle decide whether to pass a slow-moving car, but the process still requires human intervention.
Investigation about the incident is still ongoing and there aren’t so many details from either the police or NIO itself about the accident.
Most of the driver assistant technologies in use now are classified as level 2 (L2) or L2+, according to a classification system published by the standardization body SAE International. Full automation, without the need for any human intervention, is L5.
That said, many drivers warned smart car owners may take this for granted which is why a proper re-education about the difference between driver-assisted cars and fully autonomous cars.
In the US, there was a situation with Tesla which allegedly had 11 collisions with stopped cars which eventually led to the death of an individual and 17 more injured over the past three years.
“Driver assistant technology is not fully developed yet and it is not a self-driving system,” said David Zhang, a researcher for the automotive industry at the North China University of Technology. “A correct reading of [Wei’s] statement is that consumers are encouraged to have confidence in the technologies when they are fully developed.”
Dong is however optimistic that the Apollo platform will listen carefully to a range of voices on motoring safety while there will be continuous strive to improve the technology behind the system and then make it available to consumers with absolute safety assurance.