giant, Baidu, has completed the world’s largest testing facility for autonomous
motor vehicles. The Beijing-based tech company announced in late May that the
massive project will be used to test autonomous driving and
Situated in Beijing’s Yizhuaung Economic Development Zone, Apollo Park is a 13 500 square meter area that will accommodate over 200 self-driving vehicles and infrastructure for research, development and testing.
Baidu said the fleet of test vehicles would be remotely controlled via the cloud. The company has been developing self-driving technologies since 2013, and has said it will also be testing vehicle-to-infrastructure applications at the Apollo facility.
The Internet of Vehicles (IoV) is a field that has been championed by Chinese tech companies in recent years. Major tech players like Huawei and Baidu are already working with at least 18 prominent Chinese car manufacturers to develop a 5G ecosystem. Huawei has recognised the next two years as critically important to the marketing, development, and adaptation of connected automobiles.
Baidu will trial various real-world autonomous driving scenarios, such as interactions with traffic lights, cameras, road signage and other common transport-related activities.
The Apollo facility in Beijing will be the trial ground for key autonomous driving technologies, while Chongqing in south-west China will be one of the first cities to attempt a proof of concept for self-driving cars.
Baidu and the Chongqing municipal government have signed a $7.3million project to beta test driverless cars in an open-world scenario, they said in May. Part of the project, a 20 square kilometre track in the heart of the Yongchuan district, will be able to host 100 self-driving cars at a time.
Chongqing is especially suited to real world tests as the urban environment poses many challenging city features, says Baidu.
Baidu, which has made large strides in driverless transport, has been recognised as a world leader in the field. Research company Navigant recently ranked the Chinese company as the fourth most important self-driving tech company in the world, behind well-established motor company Ford, Cruise, and internet giant Google.
To date, Baidu has racked up more than 100 000 driverless tests in 24 major cities worldwide.