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Robin Wu: 95 percent of new vehicles sold globally by 2050 will have L4 autonomous driving

BEIJING – By 2050, 95 percent of the vehicles sold globally will have Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities and the rest will be Level 3 capable, predicted Robin Wu, vice president of Baidu.

Wu made the comments at the 5th China-Korea Auto Industry Development Conference organized by SIC’s Department of Information and Industry Development, Hyundai Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. and Hyundai Motor Group Global Operation Research Institute on November 2.

“We believe L4 autonomous driving will commercialize in 2025, accounting for 1 percent of global vehicle sales that year,” said Wu. “The year 2030 will be a tipping point and by 2040, L4 autonomous driving will be mainstream. By 2050, kids will be surprised to see people driving a vehicle.”

Baidu will be applying a lot of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies as it works to help automakers achieve L3 and L4 autonomous driving and Wu believes there are three reasons why AI is now being applied and has reached a sustainable development phase.

“First is that chip computing power has significantly increased and cost has drastically fell; second is big data can now be integrated; and third, cloud computing allows AI to be applied industrially,” said Wu.

Baidu, since launching its Project Apollo – an open and secure platform for autonomous driving – in July, has signed several strategic cooperation agreements with automakers including BAIC Group, King Long and Shouqi, part of some 50 OEMs, suppliers, tech companies and cities that it is working with to create an autonomous driving ecosystem. It recently launched the 1.5 version of the platform and aims to release the 2.0 version by yearend.

“Our aim is to open all of the autonomous driving functions, including urban and highway driving, by the end of 2020,” said Wu. “This is why many of our partners have announced that they want to put L4 autonomous driving cars on the roads by 2021. We are confident of that goal based on our current development plans.”

One of the critical enablers of autonomous driving, according to Wu, will be 3D high definition mapping and positioning capabilities, and Baidu currently is able to offer such maps to about 10-cm precision.

“HD maps in the future will serve the machine, not humans,” said Wu.

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