Chinese search engine Baidu Inc BIDU has unveiled an autonomous vehicle (AV) with a detachable steering wheel that can be removed or installed when required.
What Happened: Baidu said it plans to use its fully electric vehicle, the Apollo RT6, in China next year for its robotaxi services.
The Apollo RT6 will come at a much lower cost of $37,000 per unit compared to $71,020 for the previous generation, Baidu said in a statement.
"This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of AVs across China," Baidu's chief executive Robin Li said.
"We are moving towards a future where taking a robotaxi will be half the cost of taking a taxi today."
Baidu's autonomous vehicle will possess Level 4 capabilities that need no human intervention. The car will use 38 sensors, including 8 lidars and 12 cameras, to obtain highly accurate, long-range detection on all sides.
Why It's Important: Baidu could be giving a tough fight to Elon Musk's Tesla Inc TSLA. The latter aims to start mass production of its robotaxi without a steering wheel or pedals in 2024, Musk had said in a conference with investors earlier in April.
BIDU Price Action: Hong Kong-listed shares of Baidu ended Thursday's session 1.49% lower, while in premarket trading in the U.S., Baidu's ADR was up 0.18% at $140.82, according to data from Benzinga Pro.
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