Baidu launches robocar and AI chip in bid to diversify business

Robin Li (R), CEO of Baidu, sits in the Chinese tech giant’s new prototype “robocar”, an autonomous car, at the firm’s once-a-year Baidu Earth meeting on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.


GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese world wide web big Baidu unveiled its second-generation artificial intelligence chip, its to start with “robocar” and a rebranded driverless taxi application, underscoring how these new regions of engineering are vital to the firm’s potential progress.

The Beijing-headquartered business, recognized as China’s largest search engine player, has concentrated on diversifying its enterprise further than advertising and marketing in the facial area of increasing competitors and a tricky marketing sector in the very last couple many years.

Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, has tried using to persuade traders the company’s potential lies in AI and associated areas this kind of as autonomous driving.

On Wednesday, at its annual Baidu Globe meeting, the organization released Kunlun 2, its 2nd-era AI chip. The semiconductor is developed to aid units approach large quantities of details and strengthen computing power. Baidu says the chip can be made use of in spots these kinds of as autonomous driving and that it has entered mass output.

Baidu’s first-generation Kunlun chip was launched in 2018. Before this calendar year, Baidu raised cash for its chip unit valuing it at $2 billion.


Baidu also took the wraps off a “robocar,” an autonomous auto with doorways that open up up like wings and a huge screen within for leisure. It is a prototype and the firm gave no word on whether or not it would be mass-generated.

But the concept car highlights Baidu’s ambitions in autonomous driving, which analysts predict could be a multibillion dollar small business for the Chinese tech huge.

Baidu has also been operating so-known as robotaxi solutions in some metropolitan areas such as Guangzhou and Beijing in which consumers can hail an autonomous taxi by way of the firm’s Apollo Go app in a minimal space. On Wednesday, Baidu rebranded that application to “Luobo Kuaipao” as it seems to roll out robotaxis on a mass scale.

Wei Dong, vice president of Baidu’s smart driving team, advised CNBC the corporation is aiming for mass general public industrial availability in some towns within just two many years.

It is unclear how Baidu will price tag the robotaxi company.

In June, Baidu introduced a partnership with condition-owned automaker BAIC Team to establish 1,000 driverless automobiles in excess of the subsequent a few years and inevitably commercialize a robotaxi support throughout China.

Baidu also introduced 4 new parts of hardware, such as a sensible display screen and a Tv outfitted with Xiaodu, the firm’s AI voice assistant. Xiaodu is a different progress initiative for the firm.