Relying on unmanned driving, can Robin Li lead Baidu out of the predicament?

China’s Internet industry is the place where “miracles” were born. It has been less than 30 years since it was connected to the Internet in 1994, but many Fortune 500 companies have been born. In the first two decades, there were three companies that performed the most. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent were collectively referred to as “BAT”. Alibaba and Tencent both have their own trump card industries, the former is e-commerce, the latter is social + games, and based ON this, they have expanded rapidly and penetrated into all walks of life. On the other hand, Baidu, in addition to its dominant search business, has not been able to find a new and quick profit direction. Whether it is a map or an input method, it has not brought substantial changes to Baidu’s revenue, thus increasing its market value. Continue to be surpassed by emerging companies. At a time when nothing could be done, Robin Li made a major decision to focus on the development of driverless cars and personally take command of the battle.

Relying on unmanned driving, can Robin Li lead Baidu out of the predicament?

As early as 2013, the Baidu self-driving car project began to be established. It is almost the first project to carry out self-driving related research and development in China. The research and development is led by Baidu Research Institute. The core technology is “Baidu Car Brain”, including high-precision maps. , positioning, perception, intelligent decision-making and control four modules. The “Apollo” plan is the core of the implementation of this project. In just 8 years this year, the autonomous driving models equipped with related technologies have undergone four replacements, from the BMW 3 Series to the newly released GAC Aeon, Extreme Fox Alpha and Weimar W6, it is said that each replacement can achieve half the cost and ten times the performance.

The most successful part of the “Apollo” plan is the increasingly mature commercial operation model. Based on the results of this plan, Baidu’s self-driving travel service “Apollo Go” has already been launched in Beijing, Guangzhou, Changsha and Cangzhou. The city begins manned service. The cumulative number of passengers received exceeds 400,000, and the test mileage exceeds 14 million kilometers. At the Baidu World Congress jointly held by CCTV in August this year, Robin Li proposed the concept of “automobile robot” for the first time, and released the Apollo “automobile robot” with L5 level automatic driving function. It looks like a car, but it is not exactly like a car. It looks like a car because it has four wheels, a body, and a seat, and it has the basic attributes of a vehicle. It is a smart console and a large curved Screen, automatic gull-wing doors, all-glass roof, dimming glass and other smart configurations that are full of sci-fi. In terms of internal configuration, with the help of AI intelligence, it has multi-modal interaction capabilities such as voice and face recognition, and can also perform self-learning and continuous upgrading. In addition, “Apollo Go” has been upgraded to an unmanned vehicle travel service platform – “Carrot Run”. Through a variety of offline activities, it has gradually expanded its influence, laying a solid foundation for the next step to compete with online car-hailing travel platforms. Foundation.

If you think that seizing the online car-hailing travel market is the end of the “Apollo” plan, it is a big mistake. The scope of application of this plan also includes mining area transportation, intelligent logistics, automotive aftermarket services, and intelligent transportation systems. The commercialization potential of autonomous driving must not be underestimated. In addition, in the vehicle manufacturing industry, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Domestic and foreign auto giants such as Great Wall and Geely are all loyal customers of Apollo. In fact, when it comes to vehicle manufacturing, Baidu has also revealed a strong interest, and at the beginning of this year, together with Geely Automobile, they formed a smart car company, Jidu Automobile.

Compared with the general new car-making forces, Jidu Automobile has a very obvious “innate advantage”. At the beginning of its establishment, Baidu stated that it would fully empower Jidu Auto with core technologies such as artificial intelligence, Apollo autonomous driving, Xiaodu Vehicle, and Baidu Maps to help it grow rapidly. Directly participating in car R&D by yourself is different from refitting existing mass-produced vehicles in the past, which can minimize the disadvantages of software and hardware incompatibility; at the same time, working with Geely Automobile, a first-class domestic vehicle enterprise, will definitely take a lot less in the subsequent R&D stage of mass-produced vehicles. Detours also mean a lot of money can be saved in order to better control the cost of new cars.

It is not uncommon for Internet companies to enter the automobile manufacturing industry this year, but Xiaomi’s announcement of car manufacturing caused an “industry earthquake” because Xiaomi’s various magical operations in product strategy and price control are impressive. People expect Xiaomi to create cost-effective smart cars just like it makes cost-effective mobile phones. If you compare Xiaomi Auto and Jidu Auto, from the background of the two car companies, I still think that Jidu Auto may have a greater chance of winning. However, the public’s acceptance of the product is not only in the product itself, but also in marketing strategies and other factors. This has to compare the style differences between Lei Jun and Li Yanhong. Although Lei Jun is a technical background, in the eyes of many people, Lei Jun is more like a marketing master; Li Yanhong is an out-and-out The technology house has been on the front line of product development for so many years, tirelessly introducing people to the results of technological research and development and the grand blueprint.

Market competition is cruel. In the Internet era, no one can sit firmly on Mount Tai. Although Baidu, which has been overtaken by Meituan, ByteDance, and Pinduoduo, has fallen a lot compared to its peak, it does not mean that it has not returned to its peak. opportunities, autonomous driving may help Baidu to overtake in corners. After years of “intensive cultivation” and painstaking research, I hope that the final result will be as Robin Li said, “We don’t want to be an atmosphere group for technological innovation, but to be an actual combat group. We are willing to survive the loneliness and take a look at the sea of ​​stars.” /Youshi car rides the wind)