· Unmanned vehicle commercial speed is dragged down by cost

Since the Baidu driverless car appeared at the Wuzhen World Internet Conference at the end of last year, it has been highly concerned, and smart cars and unmanned vehicles have gradually warmed up. Yesterday, Baidu and Ford jointly invested in a laser radar company owned by Silicon Valley, which is intended to promote the commercialization of unmanned vehicles. However, the commercialization of unmanned vehicles still faces many challenges in terms of cost, policy and safety.

Baidu speeds up investment in unmanned vehicles

Recently, Velodyne, a Silicon Valley technology company, announced that its newly divested laser radar company, Velodyne LiDAR, has obtained a joint investment of USD 150 million (about RMB 1 billion) from Baidu and Ford. Cooperation.

It is understood that the LiDAR sensor developed by Velodyne LiDAR has become the industry standard and is widely used by companies such as Google that involve autonomous driving.

The current price of laser radar is very expensive, and the single custom cost of laser sensors currently used by Google is around $80,000. The high threshold has become a roadblock for mass production and commercialization of unmanned vehicles. However, Wang Jin, senior vice president of Baidu, previously revealed that the supply price of Velodyne 64-line laser radar has been reduced from 700,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan due to Baidu's selection of Velodyne LiDAR. The head of Velodyne LiDAR also said that if you get 1 million orders next year, the 64-line laser radar can immediately give a unit price of 500 dollars.

Since the successful completion of the road test in Baidu's driverless car in December last year, it has shown its ambition in the field of driverless driving. In fact, Baidu's driverless car project started in 2013 and was led by Baidu Research Institute. Its core technology is “Baidu Auto Brain”. Since the beginning of this year, Baidu has set up an unmanned vehicle test base in several places in Wuhu, Shanghai and Wuzhen. In addition, as of the end of April 2016, Baidu's autopilot technology patents have applied for nearly 358 applications, including unmanned vehicle intelligent sensing and control, intelligent detection and positioning, high-precision maps, voice and image processing, machine learning, unmanned vehicle testing, etc. technology.

During the summer Davos Forum, Baidu President Zhang Yaqin said that Baidu will focus on the unmanned car project in the future, and announced the “three-year commercial five-year mass production” plan.

Cost control has a long way to go

Although Baidu's rapid investment has increased the enthusiasm for unmanned vehicles inside and outside the industry, the vision of commercialization still needs to overcome many problems. According to a report released by the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEEE), the market for driverless cars is expected to become popular by 2040.

"The purpose of Baidu's investment in laser radar enterprises is also to drive down the price of key equipment, thus creating more space for commercialization." Zhang Xu, research director of Analysys Internet Traffic Travel Research Center, said that although the price of equipment will decrease, it will become a trend. However, the price of self-driving car equipment is still high.

He believes that the high cost is the primary problem that a driverless car needs to solve in a short period of time. Although automakers are very willing to cooperate with the rhythm of technology companies, the cost of control is still not simple, which has led to more cooperation with technology companies.

According to Jia Xinguang, an automotive industry analyst, the current unmanned technology has not yet reached the practical stage of application. How to integrate with existing vehicles also needs to be considered. Internet companies are only beginning to test continuously. From a technical point of view, not only the automobile, but also the road coordination, policies, and transportation systems need to be considered. Therefore, until large-scale testing becomes possible, there is a chance to usher in practical applications.

Safety is the most important reference standard for the market to be able to commercialize unmanned vehicles. A few days ago, the Tesla Model S 90D vehicle was destroyed during the French road test. Similar frequent accidents have also put pressure on the development and testing of technical vehicles.

Internet companies rush to enter

Cars have gradually become the next potential target area for Internet companies, and its appeal as a terminal is self-evident. At present, Internet companies have been involved in various aspects such as transactions and travel in the automotive-related ecological field. In addition to Baidu, Ali, Tencent are in the car system layout, LeTV also launched a super car.

"Whether the Internet of Vehicles or Autopilot is a cutting-edge technology, the car will gradually be brought into the intelligent stage." Zhang Xu believes that Internet companies rushing into this field will not only enhance the company's own value, but also adapt to the trend of technology. Practice, and from the perspective of business logic, the advance layout is also reasonable.

Internet companies mainly provide technical upgrades for automobiles as software support. This part is also the key to unmanned vehicles. Software competition will also become part of the regular competition in the future. The hardware needs the cooperation of the automobile manufacturers and adopts the mutually beneficial cooperation strategy of both parties as the support. However, at present, the cooperation in the domestic unmanned vehicles is not very active. According to the analysis, the cost should be the main reason for car companies to consider.

Zhang Xu pointed out that although the road to commercialization is not good, companies will not give up exploring potential opportunities. At present, a large number of road tests, including Google and Baidu, will also provide reference for policy decision makers. I believe that relevant policies will be introduced soon. However, in terms of security, Internet companies are faced with not only potential accidents, but also hacking attacks, which continue to be more comprehensive.

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