October 1, 2022

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Baidu’s Automobile Organization Dream Shares Huawei’s Pains

6 min read

The origins of a automobile-making endeavor

At the end of 2021, a source claimed staff and assets at Baidu’s Smart Driving Team (IDG) have been fully commited to the care of just one of  Baidu’s wholly-owned subsidiaries. In addition, just after the transfer is in excess of in the very first quarter of 2022, IDG is anticipated to established and obtain yearly income targets.

In addition, Baidu modified the structure and administration of IDG. In September 2021, Chu Ruisong, vice president of Baidu B2B SaaS business, was reassigned to IDG to head its smart motor vehicle company division as general manager

Baidu begun its autonomous driving business in 2014 and set up IDG in 2017. In new years, IDG has adjusted its organizational construction numerous moments, and now it has arrive up with 3 business divisions, which includes autonomous driving, smart vehicles and clever transportation.

Even though Baidu’s attempts in autonomous driving are very well-recognized, it has not viewed important development in current many years. This report spotlights Baidu’s vehicle small business, traces its history and analyzes two challenges that are putting a chokehold on its enhancement. We feel Baidu demands to reconsider  the automobile business enterprise and what it indicates for its company empire. Producing self-driving will be really complicated for the tech big in the up coming ten years, building the business either a disrupter or a concentrate on to be disrupted.

Turbo-demand the autonomous driving job

Baidu’s ambition to department into the vehicle sector started out with the unmanned automobile task that was inaugurated in 2013. The main technological know-how is Baidu Vehicle Mind (Chinese: ”百度汽车大脑”), which includes a higher-precision map, positioning, notion, and intelligent determination-producing and control.

At the time, the job received off to a lower-profile begin, and it was not until 2015 that Baidu commenced to discuss out about a string of milestones obtained beneath the challenge. Underneath we use a timeline to chronicle important functions that happened between 2015 and 2017:

-On January 27, Baidu introduced CarLife, a car World-wide-web of Matters alternative, with companions which include Audi, Hyundai, GM, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac.

-In March, Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, uncovered that the firm’s to start with self-driving car would be introduced that yr.

-On June 8, Wang Jin, senior vice president of Baidu, said at the China Cloud Computing Convention that Baidu would not construct its individual auto but cooperate with 3rd-social gathering suppliers.

-On December 10, Baidu announced the street take a look at of its self-driving automobile.

-In 2016, the organization acquired a license for self-driving road tests in California.

-On March 1, 2017, Baidu introduced as a result of an interior electronic mail that it would integrate its existing firms and assets and established up an clever driving organization group.

-In the exact yr, Baidu unveiled its open up-supply autonomous driving platform Apollo, and it has been iterated ten occasions to day. Based mostly on this system, Baidu started to deploy a robotaxi fleet in 2018. Considering the fact that then, it has step by step expanded its fleet, with much more than 100 vehicles deployed in four metropolitan areas nationwide by significantly.

-In March 2021, Baidu and Geely jointly set up Jidu Car, with Baidu holding a 55% stake and Geely 45%.

The IDG division has been through various improvements in current decades and comprises smart autos, autonomous driving and smart transportation business models. The products and solutions are divided into four classes: Intelligent cockpit, clever driving, intelligent map and clever cloud, which operates devices these kinds of as Xiaodu In-Auto OS. Xiaodu was primarily pre-put in in new cars in 2020 in China, which supports speech recognition, driver detection and information and facts protection defense. And Baidu map, the sector-primary net mapping application, gives positioning accuracy down to the centimeter level, as effectively as hardware products such as AR-HUD and electronic rearview mirrors.

Meanwhile, the company’s autonomous driving company is fixated on Apollo, which is at this time the most developed, complete and most secure open-source platform for developers. In accordance to its roadmap, autonomous valet parking is the first action towards achieving autonomous urban driving reliant on Apollo Computing Unit (ACU). This module is getting applied and examined in partnership with Weltmeister, an electrical carmaker. At the exact time, Baidu released Apollo Navigation Pilot (ANP) dependent on pure eyesight recognition, a characteristic that helps in large-velocity street and urban area navigation.

The final goal of Baidu’s self-driving job is to offer Amount 4 autonomous driving options that enable unmanned buses and business automobiles to serve travellers. The company has several partnerships in this area.

Apollo GO is Baidu’s robotaxi manufacturer, which has acquired the most autonomous driving licenses in China. It currently covers Changsha, Cangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou and conducts street tests with out the need to have for regulatory oversight. The commercialization of the venture has begun. According to modern organization statements, it’s crystal clear that Baidu pinned superior hopes on robotaxi and has modified the management crew appropriately. In May well 2021, Wei Dong, former CEO of Shouqi Yueche, a foremost ride-hailing corporation in China, joined Baidu as vice president and chief protection procedure officer of Baidu Smart Driving Group. His mission is to map out the route of commercialization for Apollo GO.

A different of Baidu’s initiatives, the smart transportation solutions, sets sights on on autonomous driving, linked road, and effective mobility. It supplies methods masking numerous purposes these kinds of as intelligent details handle, clever bus, automated driving, and intelligent parking. Baidu has run pilot systems in virtually 20 cities.

Tech giants with feet of clay?

While Baidu has a thorough organization system for the vehicle sector, it faces two main issues:

Apollo lacks authentic education facts. The enhancement of autonomous driving technology has met a bottleneck. There are many “corner cases” but a deficiency of connected info to coach the algorithms. This problem has hobbled the players that went ahead of. Baidu is no exception.. Baidu’s associate FAW Group and Weltmeister Motor are not the foremost players in the era of intelligent cars and trucks, so they won’t be able to provide adequate info for Baidu. The business has lagged driving contenders like Tesla, Nio and Xpeng, which gathered significant real data.

Baidu has established up Jidu to develop its cars and trucks and get more facts to address this issue. But Jidu will never be equipped to produce vehicles right until 2023.

On the other aspect of the ledger, Baidu hasn’t produced any revenue from the self-driving organization. Robin Li admitted that he used USD 20 billion on autonomous driving in 2021. Astonishingly, this is just the start out of maybe a long-operate financial investment into seemingly a “bottomless pit.” Field practitioners believe that that it will take virtually a decade for current technological know-how and know-how to  mature to L4 or even L5 of self-driving.

Even with the lofty ambitions, Baidu’s attempts  to monetize robotaxi to attain revenue breakthroughs is still in its infancy. In accordance to Wang Yunpeng, general manager of Baidu’s autonomous driving division, if a robotaxi expenses CNY 500,000 to create and can be operated for five many years, the month-to-month charge is about CNY 8,000, which is previously on par with the fees of ride-hailing providers. Assuming the normal month to month revenue is CNY 20,000, the split-even point will appear in two and a half many years, and the gain will quantity to CNY 700,000 more than a 5-yr period. Also, thanks to the reduction of lidar and other hardware expenses, the seventh- or even eighth-technology product of robotaxi can charge as much as or even decreased than a frequent car or truck. Having said that, despite the fact that we keep on to witness value cuts, the financial gain outlook is still pretty unsure.

Base line

Baidu has a rich portfolio of clever driving technological innovation and applications, but even so, handful of of its company strains are producing any revenue. Like Huawei, Baidu chooses to burn off cash to receive knowledge by way of self-builtcars just after a several failed tries. The company desires to weigh the adhering to two solutions: Preserve building very long-expression investment for no revenue and rethink the indicating and value of its autonomous driving aspirations. Producing self-driving technological know-how will be extremely complicated – and enormously high-priced – for Baidu in the next ten years, and it is still unclear how much extra solve it has prior to any tangible benefits can be observed.

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