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Head of Baidu’s Deep Learning Institute: driverless cars will promote usage and increase efficiency

Driverless car division

Envisaging the era of the sharing economy, Baidu’s participation in the business of autonomous cars with its sharing model, raises the efficiency of the whole economy, according to Head of Baidu’s Deep Learning Institute Lin Yuanqing in an interview with China’s new media tech publication Geek Park.

Lin illustrates that driving our own cars, amounts to a huge waste of resources for the usage rate merely reaches 5% to 10%. If driverless cars were to be put to use, usage rates could soar to 50%, almost quintupling the usage rate, making it highly cost-effective.

This conversation follows Baidu’s successful road test of its first driverless car last Thursday. This is the first trial since Baidu began working on this project in 2013.

Lin, previously headed up the Media Analysis Department of NEC Laboratories America, and is an expert in driverless cars with experience gained from research into computer vision, mobile searching and autonomous cars at NEC Lab.

Lin discloses that Baidu’s plan on automated driving roughly includes three steps. Firstly a test drive on highway, which was completed successfully last Thursday in Beijing; then cooperating with cities to enable autonomous cars to operate in certain areas, and lastly a push campaign into more cities and areas.

When it comes to autonomous cars, several names are known to all, including internet giant Google, electric car pioneer Tesla, and traditional vehicle manufacturers Nissan and Volvo.

Asked about the relative advantage of Baidu compared with others, Lin responds that Baidu’s technological advances in A.I. will give it a sharp edge in the rivalry, including its Deep Learning algorithms, big data used to test these algorithms and powerful computing power.

Lin adds that the core of Baidu’s automated driving technology is called Baidu AutoBrain. It consists of highly automated driving (HAD) maps, positioning detection, and smart decision-making and control.

Upon completing the successful test drive, Baidu announced on Monday the founding of its Autonomous Car Division. Lin has been appointed the title Vice General Manager of the newly-established division, merely one month after he was appointed Head of Baidu’s Deep Learning Institute in November.

“Our core technical personnel might add up to 100 next year. And 2016 will be the year we conquer major technological obstacles,” Lin claims.

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