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Baidu’s Jidu ROBO-01 SUV revealed, equipped with two pop-up lidars

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On June 8, Jidu’s released its first car concept called ROBO-01. The new car is a crossover SUV and Jidu call it a ‘robot car’, because it will feature a high level of autonomous driving capabilities.

Jidu is a joint venture between Chinese internet giant Baidu and automaker Geely. Baidu holds 55%, and Geely 45%. Xia Yiping, CEO of Jidu, previously stated that Baidu would play the leading role in Jidu. Geely will take care of manufacturing.

The Roboday event, which was entirely held in the metaverse, revealed some of the ROBO-01 specs and also that it would be equipped with two liftable “pop-up” lidars.

ROBO-01 concept unveiling ceremony in the metaverse
Pop up lidar on Jidu ROBO-01

ROBO-01 should be presented at Guangzhou Auto Show late this year, with mass production and deliveries to start in 2023. Jidu also promised to unveil its second car at the end of 2023, with production starting in 2024.

The car will be available in three colors. Chinese love giving colors weird names so that we can choose from Galaxy Purple, Star Porcelain White, and Nebula Gray.

The front lights are accompanied by LED lights, showing various signs to communicate with the surroundings and drivers around. Hip-ish drivers will have lots of fun with that, I guess.

The new Jidu car is designed with two “pop-up” lidars on both sides of the bonnet. Jidu says the radar has a super long range of up to 200 meters and integrated 128 lasers thanks to unique chip technology helping it capture 1.53 million points per second frequency.

Aside from lidars, the car’s brain is equipped with a DuerOS artificial intelligence system, NVIDIA Orin X chip, and Qualcomm 8295 chip. “The era of smart car 3.0 is the era of automotive robots. In the upcoming years, the transformation we will face is the transfer of car ‘driving rights’ from humans to AI,” said Xia Yiping, Jidu’s CEO.

Sidelines of the car are pretty elegant; the same goes for the panoramic roof. There are no rearview mirrors (it uses only rear cameras), but it’s probably only a matter of the concept car and the production version will have them.

The interior is very minimalistic, and Jidu calls it a robotic aesthetic. The steering wheel looks pretty unique and makes us think about controversial Tesla’s yoke. Though the Jidu’s solution looks like a compromise between a yoke and a classic steering wheel.

The new car will start production in 2023, and Jidu promises an “out-of-the-box” high level of autonomous driving. No idea what that means, but considering Baidu is a pure SW company with massive AI R&D centers, we (and the competition) might be very surprised next year. Yes, looking at you, Elon.

Jidu says the ROBO-01 will cost around 200,000 RMB (30,000 USD), which sounds almost too good to be true. The connection between SW and AI company Baidu and a skilled car manufacturer Geely seems promising, although it is only a concept. We will keep an eye on news from Jidu.

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