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China Transportation

Baidu Speeds Up Driverless Race With First Full Test On Beijing Roads (thestack.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese web giant Baidu has successfully completed a driverless car test route on a variety of road types near the company's Beijing headquarters. The self-driving BMW 3 Series traveled almost two miles, navigating 'complex road conditions.' The vehicle completed a number of maneuvers, including U-turns, lane changes, and joining traffic [WSJ, paywalled] from a motorway ramp. The autonomous car peaked at a speed of 62 miles per hour. According to Baidu, its Highly Automated Driving (HAD) mapping technology is able to capture 3D road data and detect vehicles, lanes and objects to within a matter of centimeters.
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Baidu Speeds Up Driverless Race With First Full Test On Beijing Roads

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  • by ugen ( 93902 ) on Thursday December 10, 2015 @11:20AM (#51094757)

    Keep in mind that in China drivers have unquestionable priority over pedestrians. The latter have to duck and weave around traffic when crossing. So - autonomous vehicle would not need to take them into account.
    Also - expensive vehicles have de-facto priority, something that drivers of less expensive cars tend to voluntarily acquiesce to. Making autonomous vehicle a BMW surely helps. In fact, were they to choose a Bentley, the driving software would only need to follow the GPS line without any additional traffic and obstacle related logic.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2015 @11:29AM (#51094809)

      You know what? Screw 'em. Let 'em cancel my account. I'm sick of paywalls.

      BEIJING—Chinese Internet search giant Baidu Inc. is joining the race to develop autonomous cars, and planning to field its first such vehicles in China within three years.

      Wang Jing, a Baidu senior vice president, told The Wall Street Journal that the company is setting up a new business unit that will work on developing autonomous vehicles for use as public shuttles. Mr. Wang will head the new unit.

      Technology heavyweights from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Samsung Electronics Co. and car makers from Toyota Motor Corp. to Tesla Motors Inc. are competing to develop components and technology for self-driving and Internet-connected cars. Many car makers already offer features that enable cars to take over critical functions and increase safety.

      Baidu’s plan comes as Google is moving closer to commercializing its self-driving car technology. In September, Google hired an auto-industry veteran to run its project, which started in 2009, and it is now tackling more complicated maneuvers such as making right turns at stop lights.

      The company last year hired Stanford researcher Andrew Ng, who also helped set up Google’s artificial-intelligence effort, to head its research center in Sunnyvale, Calif. Mr. Ng is among the researchers involved in Baidu’s car project, Baidu says.

      Mr. Wang said Baidu’s two prototype BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo autonomous cars are being road-tested on expressways in Beijing’s northern outskirts, including on the city’s Fifth Ring Road. Baidu is planning to expand its fleet, Mr. Wang said. He said Baidu is in discussions with Chinese and foreign auto makers, but declined to elaborate.

      Baidu’s plan calls for its future vehicles to operate on fixed routes or within set urban areas. “We will cooperate with some governments to provide shared vehicles like a shuttle service; it could be a car or van, but for public use,” Mr. Wang said. Baidu doesn’t have a time frame or goal for making self-driving cars commercially available for private consumers.

      In April, Boston Consulting Group cautioned that self-driving cars likely won’t hit the road until 2025, but autonomous vehicles could appear sooner in more controlled situations such as automated ride-sharing services in city centers.

      In China, bus maker Zhengzhou Yutong Bus Co. Ltd. in September said its prototype self-driving bus completed a 33 kilometer (20-mile) drive on an intercity road in central China and was able to change lanes, pass other vehicles and respond to traffic lights.

      Baidu’s cars are equipped with a laser radar, or Lidar, and sensors and cameras with varying visibility ranges. Its software draws on Baidu’s highly detailed maps as well as its “deep-learning” technology.

      Baidu said its car has been tested on highways hundreds of times, with several trips each day.

      Still, Baidu is well behind Google, whose 50-plus self-driving cars have covered more than a million miles and are currently being tested on public roads in urban areas of California and in Austin, Texas. Such settings are seen as more challenging than highways because they involve intersections and pedestrians.

      Baidu’s next steps involve testing the prototype cars in new situations, such as narrow city streets or wide boulevards, and in rain or snow. Mr. Wang said that developing an autonomous car that can adapt to China’s often unpredictable driving conditions is a challenge.

      “China’s traffic is more complicated,” Mr. Wang said. “The behavior of pedestrians, cyclists, are very different from [those] in the U.S.”

      Another potential challenge for Baidu is that China has yet to enact laws to allow for autonomous vehicles. Still, Baidu believes such technology could make roads safer. The World Health Organization has estimated that 261,000 people died on China’s roads in 2013, com

    • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Thursday December 10, 2015 @11:46AM (#51094931) Journal

      It's true. I think the major issue with pedestrian collision would be to just program the car to repeatedly ram the obstacle until they're dead [slate.com].

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      So pretty much like the UK then? Over here pedestrians and particularly cyclists are usually ignored, and the more expensive your car the fewer road rules you need to obey. People buy large, tall cars because they know drivers of lesser vehicles will swerve out the way to avoid accidents.

    • Interesting, with all that money and technology, the BMW3 convertible wasn't used.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    With Google in the race as well, I guess every Internet search/advertising company needs to have its own autonomous car research lab.

    No wonder Yahoo is being sold off for parts. :-)

  • As somebody who has driven on many occasions in Agincourt, Ontario, and escaped with my life, I have to say I'm torn.

    I can't make up my mind which would be more terrifying: with driver, or without driver (software designed where pedestrians are regarded as targets of opportunity).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why would the gor-am Chinese lie to us about anything? I'm sure all they're reporting is 100% accurate and honest, and the autonomous car they've developed is far and away better than anything the West has come up with. We shoudl just renounce our Democratic Republic/capitalist ways and beg the Chinese to come run our country for us because we suck so much! Please, Communist gods, come save us from ourselves! I'm sure they'll magically make ISIS disappear from the planet, too, and bring Putin to heel with a
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Thursday December 10, 2015 @12:05PM (#51095045)
    I'm not trying to be racist and claim that all Asians everywhere are bad drivers. I've spent a decent amount of time in Asia as a tourist in various places and except for China proper (meaning NOT Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan) I've never seen really crazy or dangerous driving. But man, does China ever have a lot of bad drivers. I remember 4 years ago taking a taxi from my hotel to the airport in Shanghai and it was maybe a 40 minute drive. I remember being on 6 lane roads and seeing other cars swerving back and forth between 2 lanes while their driver talked on a cell phone and lots of cars that simply couldn't maintain their lane at all. Even the taxi driver seemed frustrated, but he didn't speak English so I couldn't talk to him about it. The only saving grace was that there weren't a lot of other cars on the road at the time so it wasn't all that difficult to avoid the crazy drivers. A couple of years ago I spent a few weeks in Guangdong Province and the drivers were pretty bad there too in general. I remember being horrified in one town at the number of intersections with no stop signs or traffic lights and drivers just pretty much doing whatever they felt like. I also remember someone in Shanghai telling me that driver education was a complete joke there and people could get drivers licenses with almost training or experience at all.
    • Oddly enough I actually like the way they drive in China better than in the US. It's certainly true that Chinese traffic laws are more policy hints than laws, or so it seems, but Chinese drivers make maximum use of the roadway and gaps in traffic. For the most part, traffic keeps moving, but at slower speeds. In the US, people follow the laws so traffic flows faster. The problem with this is that when accidents do happen, they are usually at higher speeds and therefore a lot worse. I don't know how anyone c
    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      I've spent a lot of time in Mexico recently. Stop signs are optional and most painted lines on the road are so faded that no one follows them.. however driver actions are very predictable.

      Compare that to the US where traffic laws are generally followed and road conditions are much better.. however there are many crazy fucks behind the wheel that do random stupid shit.
    • The thing to keep in mind is that in China most drivers are still relatively new - they went from nearly no cars to jam packed in what seems like 20 years. On top of that, from my visits to China, I have got the impression that traffic rules are optional (although the Chinese will strongly deny this); this is slowly changing. And the final thing that makes Chinese traffic seem chaotic to visitors is the fact that many of the rules are slightly different in surprising ways - in Europe, for example, red light

    • It's not cultural, it's all about effective enforcement of traffic laws.
      I've driven, and been driven, all around the world.
      Shocking driving in the Middle East, most of Africa, India and lots of Asia?
      Sure. But that's because you can get a driving licence for cheap, and even if you get stopped by the cops it'll be a simple matter of a small cash bribe and you're on your way. Couple that with death-trap old cars and rubbish roads and for sure there are plenty of bad accidents.
      But...Singapore? Asian culture m

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      If it's so crazy, why didn't you see any crashes?

      In Dallas, when you pull into traffic, you ask yourself the question, "If I pull out, and they slam on the brakes, would they hit me?" If the answer is "no" you go. Drivers in Dallas will "cut you off" all the time. Most of the rest of the US is in between the two, but in Boston, if the person you are pulling out in front of could floor it and hit you before you hit the person that was previously in front of them, they'll try, and lay on the horn for 37.
  • Based on the images coming from Beijing recently, shouldn't they be working on pollution-less cars?
  • That driverless cars are really for selling infotainment, the associate hardware, and... more content. Aside from all the personal data that can be collected and mined for ads and selling you more stuff. The more your face is looking at a screen, the more you buy stuff--content is king. And more the stuff bought means ++ for all those manufacturing companies in the east--really, they are only making money from volume of something (like smartphones).

    Traffic, efficiency, safety are backseat items in this driv

  • I want to see a course with parked cars on the side of the road. Drive along a side street, see a ball, toy, dog, cat, etc. come out between the cars. Apply breaks and or steer away to avoid the child chasing the item. Go for it!
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Foreign object is trivial and solved. More interesting is someone else violating all the rules. A police chase chased a criminal onto a one-way street, the wrong way. So you are driving down the middle lane of a 3-lane one-way road, one car coming at you, what do you do? When that's past, then you can see the police, what do you do then?

      Or the ones where humans haven't solved it. Drive in white-out conditions. I've driven in white-out conditions. It's not easy, and much of it is playing the percenta

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