Baidu rolls out affordable, camera-based sensor system for autonomous driving

It has ten cameras and can detect objects 700 feet away.

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Baidu rolls out affordable, camera-based sensor system for autonomous driving

Chinese internet giant Baidu announced on Wednesday in a press release that it has unveiled Apollo Lite, a vision-based autonomous driving solution that uses ten cameras. The system achieves Level 4 autonomous driving, meaning the driver is not required to intervene with driving operations, and that autonomous travel can take place under specific conditions, such as in designated self-driving zones.

Without using Lidar technology—that is, “light detection and ranging” sensors—Baidu says that Apollo Lite can detect objects up to 700 feet away. Vehicles equipped with the system have completed Level 4 autonomous driving tests on some of Beijing’s open roads.

Baidu said via its WeChat account on Thursday that during testing, Apollo Lite’s performance is comparable with that of the pure vision-based sensing solution of Mobileye, the world’s largest advanced driver assistance system provider.

Compared with Lidar-based sensing solutions, vision-based sensing solutions are less expensive and easier to acquire as the latter utilize mature technologies, Baidu added, though the company emphasized that vehicles don’t necessarily have to adopt one or the other.

Instead, Baidu said it hopes multiple sensor systems, each with its own advantages in autonomous driving, can be integrated for the “true redundancy” necessary for a safe and fully autonomous driving experience.