Baidu Conducting Autonomous Testing
Baidu, Inc. received qualifications for 35 vehicles to demonstrate commercialized autonomous driving operations, and qualifications for 10 vehicles to conduct driverless testing, by Cangzhou traffic authorities. These qualifications will allow Baidu to be the first company in China to experiment with various monetization mechanisms for autonomous driving services, marking a landmark step on Baidu Apollo’s road to commercialization.
With these qualifications, Baidu Apollo will be able to roll out commercialized demonstrations of its smart transportation services in Cangzhou, and explore various mechanisms for charging customers, such as discounts, trial tickets, and voluntary payments from riders, for the first time by any autonomous driving company in China. In August 2020, Baidu opened the Apollo Go Robotaxi service in the downtown areas of Cangzhou, which has allowed people to hail a free robotaxi ride through their smartphone. In addition to bringing added convenience and safety to the people of Cangzhou, Baidu’s robotaxis are intelligent electric vehicles that contribute to environmental protection by reducing carbon emissions.
The qualifications will also enable Baidu to test driverless vehicles in Cangzhou, the first company to receive this permission in the city. Baidu Apollo previously received this permission in Changsha and Beijing in September and December of 2020, respectively. Baidu is the first and only company approved to conduct open road driverless testing in the Chinese capital. Internationally, Baidu Apollo obtained permission in California to conduct driverless testing.
To obtain the Cangzhou qualifications, companies were required to complete a total of 50,000 kilometers of local testing on open roads, accompanied by safety drivers, while being responsible for zero accidents. As of March 1, 2021, Baidu’s Cangzhou fleet accumulated 524,696 kilometers of total test mileage with each car averaging 17,490 kilometers, a testament to the safety and reliability of Apollo-powered autonomous vehicles.
Lidar Can help Prevent Pedestrian Collisions
-While overall driving was down 13 percent in miles driven last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, motor vehicle deaths were up 8 percent in the United States, reported the National Safety Council. Velodyne Lidar, Inc. showed how with lidar technology, Pedestrian Automated Emergency Braking (PAEB) systems can be significantly improved, with the potential to save thousands of lives annually.
Velodyne released a new video that showcases how its affordable lidar-based PAEB solution delivers superior performance in all conditions, a decisive advantage over radar+camera-based systems. This is especially critical at night with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reporting 80 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur during dark lighting conditions.
The Velodyne video presents striking test results where a highly-rated PAEB system using radar+camera-based technology failed in all six nighttime scenarios while the Velodyne PAEB solution avoided a crash in every situation. These results support independent testing by NHTSA and the American Automobile Association (AAA) to confirm whether PAEB systems which use radar+camera-based technology adequately protect pedestrians in dark conditions.
The Velodyne PAEB solution combines proprietary software, called Vella, with Velodyne’s lidar sensors. The sensors can be easily embedded in a variety of places around a vehicle, including behind the windshield. Vella software interprets lidar data to avoid and mitigate crashes with moving and static objects. Through predictive collision monitoring, Vella compares a vehicle’s trajectory with other road users and objects to identify and avoid imminent crash scenarios.
Velodyne is sharing the company’s PAEB test methodology and findings with NHTSA and other auto safety leaders. NHTSA has a pending proposal to update its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), adding advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) capabilities, including PAEB, to the NCAP. Velodyne is very supportive of NHTSA’s NCAP plan to keep pace with evolving safety technologies and providing much-needed information to consumers, and looks forward to NHTSA leadership completing the review of this measure and moving ahead with its request for comment.
“Our PAEB testing initiative clearly demonstrates the imperative for regulatory agencies and testing organizations to include nighttime conditions in their PAEB assessment protocols,” said Anand Gopalan, CEO, Velodyne Lidar. “Everyone, particularly automakers and drivers will expect that ADAS, such as PAEB, perform effectively in a wide variety of lighting situations, particularly at night when the most pedestrian fatalities occur. We believe Velodyne’s lidar data and Vella processing software have shown to be effective and ready for implementation, with the potential to save the lives of thousands of pedestrians annually.”
Velodyne PAEB Testing Methodology
The Velodyne PAEB tests were conducted at nighttime, without streetlights, at less than 1 lux ambient lighting in an independent testing facility. The two vehicles in the test were driving at 30 mph on a straight track. The test vehicles each had their low beam headlights on during the trials. Stationary child and adult pedestrian dummy targets were used, compatible with testing protocols prescribed by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Euro NCAP.
Six scenarios were evaluated with both vehicles tested in each scenario five times or until the vehicle collided with the target three times, to minimize damage to the targets and vehicles. The scenarios in which vehicles were evaluated were crossing adult at 50 percent overlap (at the center of the test vehicle’s width); crossing adult at 25 percent overlap; crossing child at 50 percent overlap; crossing child at 25 percent, adult at 75 percent, 10 feet behind child; crossing adult at driver-side corner and fallen adult at 50 percent overlap.
The vehicle with Velodyne’s lidar-based PAEB system, equipped with one Velarray lidar sensor, successfully stopped in time to avoid a crash five out of five times for every scenario tested. The vehicle equipped with a PAEB system using radar+camera-based technology failed in every scenario tested.
The Market for Robotaxis
A new report from Guidehouse Insights examines the market for robotaxi services, with a focus on key business and social drivers, technology issues, regulatory factors, and the competitive landscape.
Robotaxi services are expected to be the next stage of ride-hailing’s evolution, bringing driverless taxi fleets that provide low-cost, on-demand mobility services to the masses. While ride-hailing has often brought ride-hailing operators into conflict with city authorities, robotaxis can appeal to cities that are actively seeking to reduce vehicle ownership and use of private transportation.
According to a new report from @WeAreGHInsights, China, North America, and Europe are expected to be key markets for adoption, representing more than 90% of passenger miles traveled for robotaxis during the 2020-2030 timeframe.
“These markets have established ride-hailing services and show strong demand and growing adoption of shared mobility, and they are also developing the infrastructure to support robotaxi fleets,” said Sagie Evbenata, senior research analyst with Guidehouse Insights. “Few commercial deployments are likely to be seen until 2028-2029, but this is likely to be followed by a period of extreme growth where robotaxis mainly replace human-driven ride-hailing services.”
Removing drivers from ride-hailing operations is widely seen as an opportunity for the industry to reduce operating costs and ensure profitability. According to the report, major players including Waymo, DiDi, Cruise, and Uber have placed multibillion-dollar bets on developing automated driving AD technology and piloting robotaxi services.