Chinese start-up boldly claims its autonomous car tech will overtake Tesla


Backed by China’s Google rival Baidu – and domestic car maker Geely – little-known Jidu Auto believes the autonomous technology in its future vehicles will be better than the systems developed by Tesla.

Chinese electric car start-up Jidu Auto has ambitiously claimed its autonomous car technology will be a generation ahead of Tesla’s systems when its first model launches later this year.

Owned by Chinese online search engine giant Baidu and car maker Geely, Jidu Auto is developing electric cars with semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous driving systems, aiming to deliver vehicles which require little to no human interaction.

Speaking at a Jidu Auto’s inaugural partner conference, Baidu CEO Robin Li said the company’s electric cars “will be one-generation ahead of Tesla in terms of autonomous driving technologies”, according to a report by news agency Reuters.

The executive noted that fully-autonomous “intelligent” vehicles is the end-goal of Jidu Auto.

“Our understanding of smart vehicles is that being electric is the semi-final while being intelligent is the final,” said Mr Li. 

Reuters also reported that Jidu Auto’s CEO, Joe Xia Yiping, announced an ambitious plan for the electric-car maker to deliver 800,000 autonomous vehicles in 2028.

If the company achieved this ambitious target, it would represent approximately three per cent of all new vehicles sold in China.

In June this year, Jidu Auto revealed its ROBO-01 electric car concept, featuring 12 cameras and two lidar sensors which feed information into the vehicle’s autonomous driving system.

While Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ autonomous systems use radars and cameras to gather information on the road ahead, the electric car maker has never used lidar.

In 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said “anyone relying on lidar is doomed” at the company’s Autonomy Day event.

The Jidu Auto ROBO-01 concept was also equipped with pillar-less and handle-less doors, which can be opened and closed by using the car’s voice control system – allowing occupants to give verbal commands to control certain functions.

Limited production of the ROBO-01 is due to begin later this year, followed by mass production starting in 2023.

Jidu Auto plans to launch a second model from 2024, although it has not yet been revealed in concept or production form.

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