Baidu’s Project Apollo Takes Flight, Bringing Autonomous Cars Closer to Reality

by Danny Shapiro

Like its namesake, Baidu’s Project Apollo aims to redefine the possibilities for human travel. But instead of landing men on the moon like NASA’s version of the program, vehicles in this initiative must learn to drive themselves.

In April, Baidu announced Project Apollo — an open source platform for self-driving that includes hardware, software and cloud data services for autonomous vehicles. The initial release arrived this week at Baidu Create, the company’s first AI developer conference.

Project Apollo is adding partners from throughout the automotive ecosystem to speed adoption of the technology. Baidu announced that the Apollo Ecosystem Partners Alliance now includes over 50 members — automakers, tier 1 suppliers, component producers, startups, academic institutions and government departments.

Among them is NVIDIA, whose technology will be used from the server to the car, including Tesla GPU accelerators and DRIVE PX, along with software such as CUDA and TensorRT .

Speaking at Baidu Create, Pradeep Gupta, senior technical director at NVIDIA, highlighted how Baidu and NVIDIA have been working together to solve the challenges of developing an AI self-driving car.

“Baidu’s wealth of experience has achieved great results in artificial intelligence, deep learning and high-precision maps,” Gupta said. “The Apollo open source program is a great way to build an open autopilot platform, and we welcome other partners to join.”

AI is the key to autonomous driving, and is transforming the transportation industry. During CES Asia in Shanghai last month, Baidu displayed AI self-driving capabilities with an autonomous driving demonstration.

For this demo, the self-driving car acquired skills through deep learning. After learning the driving habits of a human instructor, it demonstrated appropriate driving behaviors in complex environments.

More than 1,000 visitors at the event enjoyed the autonomous test drives and experienced a preview of the technology auto manufacturers and tier 1 suppliers can now access through Project Apollo.

In addition to our work together on self-driving cars, NVIDIA and Baidu also announced a partnership to bring the world’s leading artificial intelligence technology to cloud computing and AI home assistants.

From building a complete autonomous driving framework, to the mass production of a self-driving car, NVIDIA is reinventing the auto industry with our partner Baidu.

Photos courtesy of Baidu.