Baidu's Affordable Sixth-Generation Robotaxi

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Baidu has recently unveiled its sixth-generation robotaxi, the RT6, at the company’s Apollo Day event, signaling its readiness for deployment on the streets of Wuhan. A standout feature of this launch is the remarkably low cost of the RT6, which Baidu disclosed to be just $28,350, a figure they substantiated by presenting the official Chinese invoice at the event. This price point undercuts other recently launched vehicles like the Xiaomi SU7 and IM L6 and represents more than a 50% reduction compared to the previous generation of Baidu’s robotaxis.

What makes this price particularly noteworthy is that the RT6 is a Level 4 autonomous vehicle. It is equipped with five Lidar units and a total of 40 sensors distributed across seven categories around the vehicle, offering a maximum sensing range of 440 meters. The RT6 boasts a computing power of 1200 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second), which significantly surpasses the computing power used in assisted driving systems by XPeng and Li Auto. However, it is only slightly more powerful than the Nio Adam supercomputer, which offers 1016 TOPS.


The RT6 is manufactured by Jiangxi-based JMC, a company known for its commercial vehicles and joint ventures with Ford, producing models like the Transit, Equator, and Bronco. The RT6 combines features of both MPVs and SUVs, measuring 4765 mm in length, 1885 mm in width, and 1715 mm in height, with a wheelbase of 2830 mm. It is driven by a 110 kW electric motor supplied by BYD and uses lithium iron phosphate batteries in a swappable pack that can be changed within three minutes, although the pack size remains undisclosed. The vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 135 km/h.

The RT6 is designed with sliding doors for easy passenger access, unlocked via a password on the B-pillar. The exterior design includes a black finish on the roof and pillars, extending down to the tailgate. The front features Starlight headlights equipped with recognition, prompting, and interaction functions, while the roof houses an array of Lidar sensors.

Inside, the RT6 offers seating for four, with a focus on rear passengers. Contrary to some reports, a retractable steering wheel is not yet available; the vehicle instead features a simple steering wheel and a small central display. Rear passengers enjoy individual seats with heating, a 10-point massage function, adjustable backrests, and leg rests. The second row provides ample space with 998 mm of headroom, 1,485 mm of shoulder room, and 920 mm of legroom, with seats that recline up to 135°. Passengers can control the car’s comfort functions through voice commands, and safety is enhanced with both side and curtain airbags.

Baidu robotaxi

Baidu plans to deploy 1,000 RT6 robotaxis in Wuhan by the end of 2024. The Apollo Go unit, which operates the robotaxi fleet, is nearing profitability due to decreasing costs and increasing orders, aiming to break even by the end of this year and turn a profit next year. Baidu has established a fully autonomous ecosystem in Wuhan to manage all aspects of the robotaxi operation, including vehicle activation, dispatch, battery swapping, cleaning, control, and retrieval, without human intervention.

The RT6’s software system has evolved from a regulatory and decision-making model to a new AI data-driven system that learns from experienced human drivers. This innovation aims to surpass human driving capabilities. Baidu has introduced Apollo ADFM, the world’s first foundation model for supporting Level 4 autonomous driving, enhancing obstacle depiction through depth, accuracy, and information richness.

Building on Apollo’s 100 million kilometers of real-world data, the RT6 aims to improve safety, with the Apollo robotaxi fleet having an accident rate just 1/14th of that of human drivers over the past two years. Currently, the Apollo Go service area spans 3000 square kilometers in Wuhan, serving a population of 7.7 million people, which is more than half of the city’s population.

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