Jidu Auto, a subsidiary of Baidu, unveiled a robot concept car called “ROBO-1” on Wednesday, the first electric vehicle (EV) unveiled by a Chinese internet company.
The “ROBO-1” concept car, which has no door handles and can be controlled entirely by voice, was unveiled during an online press conference on Baidu‘s metaverse-themed app Xirang.
Jidu, a Chinese EV startup run by Baidu and co-funded by Geely, wants to mass-produce the vehicle in 2023, which will be 90% similar to the concept car.
The “ROBO-1” EVs will be packed with self-driving Level 4 capabilities that do not require human involvement and Qualcomm‘s 8295 chips, which will allow users to access voice assistance offline when the internet connection is poor.
After Tesla‘s success in commercializing electric vehicles, tech companies around the world are competing to produce smart cars. Baidu‘s EV-making proposal comes as tech companies around the world compete to develop smart vehicles.
Jidu will build two lidars and 12 cameras alongside the car, in addition to equipping it with Baidu-powered autonomous driving software. Lidars are radar-like detecting devices that employ pulsed laser light instead of radio frequencies.
“The Jidu robocar aims to meet users’ needs for intelligent travel … and intelligent cabin in the new era,” said Joe Xia Yiping, Jidu chief executive, adding that “the ultimate goal is to realize a fully driverless transportation experience.”
Jidu cars will offer to people who enjoy cutting-edge technology, according to Luo Gang, Jidu‘s chief of operations. The electric vehicles will be built in Hangzhou Bay, China’s eastern city of Ningbo, where Geely operates several facilities.
Jidu has hired Frank Wu, a former Cadillac designer, as its head of design, and Wang Weibao, a former member of Apple‘s Project Titan electric vehicle effort, as its head of intelligent driving.
Baidu CEO Robin Li said on a conference call last month that Jidu‘s initial model will cost more than 200,000 yuan ($29,914.59).
Xiaomi Corp, a smartphone maker, and Didi Global, a Chinese e-commerce company, are among the Chinese tech titans pursuing auto-making ambitions.