Kill the security guard, where is Robotaxi's next stop?

 Back to the origin of Robotaxi's commercial use, how do competing OEMs and travel platforms form a closed-loop industry?

As an "incremental" position in the process of autonomous driving, how long will the safety officer exist?

The answer to this question may soon be revealed.

Waymo announced on October 8 this year that it will open a fully driverless car-hailing service to the public in the suburbs of Phoenix in the United States.

Immediately afterwards, Cruise was approved to test fully autonomous vehicles on public roads in California, and announced on October 16 that it plans to send fully autonomous test vehicles without safety officers on the roads before the end of this year.

In China, Wenyuan Zhixing and Baidu 's unmanned Robotaxi also hit the road.

Killing the safety officer seems to be a reality overnight, but when the "True Autopilot" without the main driver really comes to us, where should Robotaxi's next stop go?

Remove the safety officer, Robotaxi countdown

When will Robotaxi start to make money, I will leave it aside for the time being. At least for the moment, the main goal of autonomous driving companies is to remove safety officers from the car.

On September 15th, Baidu demonstrated to the outside world a test demonstration of unmanned and fully automated driving of the main driver by means of 5G parallel driving through the live broadcast of Baidu World 2020. On the same day, the Changsha Municipal Government held a press conference. The first batch of trial operation demonstration notices and driverless test notices were issued to Hunan Apollo Zhixing Technology Co., Ltd.

Another autonomous driving company, Wenyuan Zhixing, made an earlier breakthrough in fully driverless testing.

On July 10 this year, Wenyuan Zhixing announced that it has obtained the country's first remote test permit for intelligent networked vehicles to conduct fully unmanned road tests on open roads within the range of Guangzhou road tests.

In fact, whether it is Baidu's "5G cloud driving" or Wenyuan Zhixing's fully driverless road test, they are all based on remote control of the 5G network. There is still a security officer in the cloud supervising the entire test process, ready to take over the car at any time.

The Changsha driverless test procedure also clearly defines the nature of the test: a driverless test is not a test without a safety officer. The non-driving space in the car still needs to be equipped with a safety officer who can perform vehicle braking operations, and is configured to take over the safety of the vehicle remotely. member.

Although it is not in the true sense to remove safety officers, Chinese autonomous driving companies represented by Baidu and Wen Yuanzhi have taken the first step.

Wenyuan Zhixing CEO Han Xu once said in an interview with the media that his personal understanding of Robotaxi is divided into 5 stages.

The first stage is to make an unmanned vehicle that can operate in an experimental environment.

The second stage is to obtain the autopilot road test permit, which can realize any point-to-point autopilot test on the road in a small area with a safety officer.

The third stage is to realize autonomous driving test and passenger operation in a larger area.

The fourth stage is to obtain government permits, remove safety officers, and conduct fully unmanned driving tests and trial operations in a limited area and time.

The fifth stage is the passenger operation of truly driverless taxis.

At present, most autopilot companies have reached the third stage. For all players, the forthcoming fourth stage will be the most critical and true stage of deciding to survive.

Drive into the deep water of the scene and kill the winner

At present, although Baidu and Wenyuan Zhixing are the first to obtain the qualification for the fully driverless test, they are still cautious about the next breakthrough of Robotaxi.

"Now the industry just says that it has entered the testing stage of fully driverless cars. This does not mean that fully driverless cars can run on the streets and carry passengers." Wen Yuan Zhixing COO Zhang Li is accepting the theory of intelligent relativity (ID: aixdlun) said in an interview that the full driverless test phase may last for 1-2 years. After this period of time is fully tested and technically iterated to prove the safety and reliability of the system, it will enter the passenger operation phase.

According to Wenyuan Zhixing’s plan, if the technology progresses smoothly and breakthroughs are made in policies and regulations, the operation of the fully driverless Robotaxi on open roads in Guangzhou's limited area may land someday between 2023 and 2025.

The relevant person in charge of Hunan Apollo Zhixing also stated that after obtaining the driverless test notice, the joint debugging test is currently being carried out in a closed field. Soon after, Apollo Zhixing's Robotaxi will also enter the open road for unmanned driving test. At the same time, Robotaxi's fee-based trial operation is also in progress.

It can be predicted that in the next period of time, more and more autonomous driving companies will enter the stage of main driver unmanned autonomous driving testing and trial operation. Before that, what will the focus of Robotaxi's competition be?

The deep water area of ​​the scene is the only direction.

Wenyuan Zhixing announced on September 10 that its Robotaxi had entered the urban village of Guangzhou and achieved safety and no takeover throughout the entire process. This is Wenyuan Zhixing’s exploration and attempt to challenge the long tail scene.

We know that there are several typical characteristics of urban villages:

1. Two highs and one low: high population density, high building density, and low floor area ratio.

2. A self-contained traffic system: lack of an internal road traffic network, no rules are the only rules.

3. Although the sparrow is small, it has all five internal organs: every urban village is a complete mini-life circle and business circle;

4. Huge differences between inside and outside: most of them are located around the bustling CBD, and there are huge differences in traffic inside and outside the village.

In the eyes of self-driving cars, the village in the city is a scene of extreme challenges that is full of massive amounts of dynamic obstacle data, no identifiable traffic signs, and no pre-definition.

Similar to Wenyuan Zhixing, Apollo Zhixing began to extend the scope of testing to Changsha's Ring Expressway long ago. Higher speeds, more complex road conditions and more uncertainty make Robotaxi easier to encounter The complicated long-tail scene puts forward higher requirements on Robotaxi's stability and decision-making ability.

If you look at the strict restrictions imposed by the California Department of Vehicles on Cruise testing fully autonomous vehicles in specific areas of San Francisco, such as a speed limit of no more than 30 mph (approximately 48 km/h), heavy fog and heavy rain The weather, the test must be suspended, etc. China's autonomous driving test also has the same problem, that is, it is difficult to test a large number of long-tail scenarios.

In this way, the focus of Robotaxi's competition is very clear, and the breakthrough in the long-tail scene will be the winner before the safety guard is removed.

Back to the origin of Robotaxi's commercial use, how do competing OEMs and travel platforms form a closed-loop industry?

Li Zhenyu, vice president of Baidu Group and general manager of the intelligent driving business group, once introduced the three elements of fully driverless driving in the live broadcast of Baidu World 2020: "Front-loaded mass production vehicles", "AI old drivers ", and "5G cloud generation. drive".

Obviously, Robotaxi's final commercial landing cannot avoid the OEMs in any case. To a certain extent, autonomous driving companies and OEMs are not only cooperative relationships, but there are also competitive relationships between them. Robotaxi's business In the model, what role the OEM will play will definitely be a see-saw process.

Robotaxi is another heavily involved force-the travel platform is more uncertain.

As a matchmaking party between the supply side and the demand side, the travel platform on the supply side can output lower-cost travel services and improve the operating efficiency of the overall system through Robotaxi. Therefore, this is also the original way for platforms such as Didi and Cao Cao Travel to enter the Robotaxi track. power.

So the question is, since the travel platform can operate its own Robotaxi, where should the autonomous driving companies' Robotaxi come from?

Many autonomous driving companies provide solutions for self-built portals. For example, Waymo has its own taxi app; Baidu relies on its own Baidu map. Although Wenyuan Zhixing has access to Gaode maps, it also has its own App WeRide Go.

OEMs, travel platforms, and autonomous driving companies, among the three forces participating in Robotaxi, each has outstanding advantages and longboards. If Robotaxi wants to build a balanced industrial closed loop between these three, it will be a battle and fight. The melee is inevitable.

So it seems, remove the safety officer and drive to Robotaxi at the next stop. The road is obstructive and long.


Popular posts from this blog

It is inevitable for technology companies to enter the market to build cars

Who is the "stumbling block" that prevents Tesla from going to the countryside?

Tesla released a major facelift, Model S Plaid, which is as different as ever