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Baidu World Conference 2021

BEIJING, Aug. 18, 2021, Baidu demonstrated how its latest AI innovations will transform and improve transportation, industry and daily life at its annual flagship technology conference, Baidu World 2021. From a robocar reveal and a rebranded robotaxi mobile platform and the second generation Kunlun AI chip, Baidu showcased how AI will permeate our daily lives and bring about new, improved experiences. From a series of intensive information releases, we can perceive Baidu's ambition to penetrate into various fields such as smart cars, consumer electronics, and industrial Internet with AI technology. Baidu, which started with search engine, is trying to transform into an AI-driven industrial technology company.


CONFERENCE KEY POINTS

• Baidu launched Kunlun 2, its second-generation AI chip aimed at areas such as autonomous driving.

• The Chinese tech giant also released a prototype “robocar” and rebranded its robotaxi app, underscoring its ambitions in autonomous driving.


In appearance, the automatic gull-wing door, all-glass roof and external sensors are integrated. There are no steering wheels and pedals in the car, and intelligent configurations such as super-large curved screens, smart consoles, dimming glass, and zero-gravity seats are used. Baidu also claims that car robots have L5 autonomous driving capabilities, without human driving, and can even be safer than human driving. However, the timing of Baidu's official announcement seems to be a little bit inappropriate. Recently, the frequent occurrence of autonomous driving accidents has caused widespread public concern about the safety of autonomous driving.


Although Baidu demonstrated at the conference that car robots can autonomously drive all the way, avoiding pedestrians and other vehicles and other operations. But this kind of road test under controllable conditions cannot prove the true landing ability of Baidu's unmanned driving.


In the next few years, the real test of Baidu's autonomous driving strength may be its newly released unmanned car travel service app. This is an online car-hailing app similar to autonomous driving. Users can use this app to call Baidu Apollo which unmanned car with the prototype of a car robot.


Baidu revealed that the platform has opened manned services in four cities. As of the first half of 2021, Baidu's Apollo self-driving service has received more than 400,000 passengers, and the test mileage has exceeded 14 million kilometers. However, the unmanned driving service provided by Baidu is not completely unconditional. Users need to call for a car at a designated place, and there are certain design restrictions on the driving route, which may be to ensure safety.

In addition to autonomous driving, the mass production of Baidu's second-generation Kunlun AI chip is another focus of this conference. This year, Kunlun AI chips have been split from Baidu into a new company, Kunlun Core (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd., and completed independent financing, with a valuation of US$2 billion. Baidu announced the mass production of the 7nm Kunlun II AI chip, which delivers 2-3x more performance over the previous generation, with a max power consumption of 120W. As the hardware engine of Baidu Brain, Kunlun supports all types of algorithms including speech, vision, natural language processing and intelligent recommendation.


It is worth noting that, compared to the first generation of chips, which are mainly cloud chips, the second generation of Kunlun chips has expanded to multiple scenarios such as cloud, terminal, and edge. The end-side and edge-side applications of AI chips mainly include security, autonomous driving, smart home and other fields. Among them, autonomous driving is the most popular, and it has become a new highland targeted by AI companies. Considering Baidu's layout in intelligent driving, Baidu's unmanned Apollo may be able to use its own Kunlun chip in the future.

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