Chinese search giant ‘Baidu’ has released their Open Source Autonomous Driving platform called ‘Apollo,’ as promised previously by them in April 2017. By making it Open Source, they declare Apollo as the “Android of Autonomous Driving Industry.” This is the first step in their goal of developing fully autonomous cars for urban roads and highways by 2020.
At ‘Baidu Create’ held in Beijing, the company declared that more than 50 companies, including big names in the auto and tech industries, have joined it’s Apollo self-driving car platform. Those top companies include Daimler, Delphi, Ford, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, and popular LIDAR-supplier Velodyne.
“Apollo is an important milestone for the automotive industry,” Qi Lu, Baidu’s chief operating officer said at the conference. “It is, in essence, the ‘Android’ of the autonomous driving industry, but more open and more powerful. Apollo is not solely Baidu’s. It belongs to everyone in the ecosystem.”
“Apollo will serve like the brain of autonomous driving vehicles, and car manufacturers and auto suppliers are like arms and legs,” Qi Lu added,
Apollo is supposed to support all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle via cloud services, an open software stack, reference hardware, and vehicle platforms. Open source code portions can be modified, open capability components are accessible through an API that can be replaced with proprietary implementations, and simulation services backed by autonomous driving scene data are also available. The hope is that developers will not have to duplicate code and that the project will be able to iterate faster.
Here is the official Github repo for the Apollo project.