China has emerged as a new player in the charge towards autonomous trucks with the unveiling of a concept from Foton and technology company Baidu – the Baidu Intelligent Vehicle.
Named as the ‘super truck’, the car is powered by both Baidu’s limited self-driving automation and Foton’s driverless technologies and big data of commercial vehicles.
Baidu had been developing autonomous technology in conjunction with BMW until the two-year arrangement came to a halt this week.
According to general manager of Baidu Intelligent Vehicle, Gu Weihao, the commercial vehicle market presents a more viable sector for autonomous vehicles because of the significant benefits to safety, efficiency and operating costs.
“The mass deployment and implementation of driverless commercial cars may witness a boom as strong demand is projected for non-price sensitive buyers, usually company buyers,” Weihao said.
“We’ll further collaborate with commercial vehicle OEMs to develop self-driving solutions and build typical application scenarios.
“On the other hand, being one of pioneers in the industry, we’d like to introduce more self-driving technology providers to participate and grab a piece of the market share.”
The Chinese transport industry is worth in excess of $300 billion with more than 7.2 million trucks on the road. It is estimated driver wages account for approximately 40 per cent of running costs – which would be significantly reduced by autonomous trucks.
Baidu and Foton will be trailing its developments in 10 cities throughout China over the coming months in a range of conditions.