Robot Truck: China’s Baidu Is Out For Tesla’s Big Rig EV

Baidu’s DeepWay subsidiary is nipping at Tesla’s heels. It just introduced its Xingtu electric “robot truck.” Baidu already has Apollo, its autonomous driving platform. So this is just another category that China wants to dominate. It can see or sense more than one-half mile with Level 3 autonomous driving.

Baidu’s “robot truck” Xingtu travels high-speed freight routes with little human oversight

Baidu/DeepWay autonomous "robot truck"
Baidu/DeepWay autonomous “robot truck” | DeepWay

That much distance means it is capable of traveling on high-speed freight routes. With L3 autonomous capability, it still needs a human hand. But drivers won’t have to monitor traffic conditions in certain situations according to the South China Morning Post

To be able to achieve L3 capabilities Xingtu has 10 onboard cameras, five wave radars, and three infrared detectors. Capable of almost 50-ton loads, it can travel 186 miles between charging. It does this with a 450-kilowatt-hour battery pack, for end-to-end autonomous driving. 

DeepWay wants Xingtu to achieve L4 autonomous driving abilities by 2024. In most cases, that means no drivers are needed. In the US, technology maker TuSimple already has 5,700 orders for its self-driving long-haul semi-truck. 

Xingtu’s Apollo autonomous platform has seen 8.7 million miles of testing already

Baidu/DeepWay autonomous "robot truck"
Baidu/DeepWay autonomous “robot truck” | DeepWay

Baidu-based in Beijing wants to dominate China’s autonomous driving technology. Its Apollo platform has seen almost nine million miles of testing. Baidu first launched the Apollo program in 2013. Xintu is planned for mass production, it’s not just a concept 

“The Apollo platform has the potential to create more next-generation vehicles with self-driving capabilities,” said Cao Hua, a partner at private equity firm Unity Asset Management. “It remains to be seen whether products like Xingtu trucks will be well received by clients in the near future.”

China is rapidly ramping up EV production and technology. Carmaker Jidu, a joint venture with Baidu and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, is developing a battery-powered passenger car for 2024. But there are so many companies in China working on EVs it is hard to keep track. 

“It is by no means just a modified truck-it’s a robot truck”

Tesla Electric Semi Truck
Tesla Electric Semi Truck | Tesla

“Autonomous driving must use advanced driverless technology to create new products that offer the ultimate experience to achieve commercial success,” said Wang Yunpeng, general manager of autonomous driving technology at Baidu. “We aim to create value in real-life scenarios, such as transporting people, deliveries, and life services. This new generation of vehicles is by no means just a modified truck – it’s a robot truck.”

Apollo is one of the top five autonomous platforms being used globally. It trails only Waymo, Ford, and Cruise according to Navigant Research. But like we said, Baidu wants to dominate autonomous driving systems. 

Right now Xingtu is so new there is no word on when production will begin. It is also unknown how much it will sell for. But for trucking companies around the globe, autonomous driving is the panacea it has been hoping for. The potential for making long-haul transportation cheaper, safer, and more efficient, will change the category in ways we still can’t imagine. 

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