Chinese internet giant Alibaba is speeding up its autonomous driving efforts with the launch of its first-ever L4-class self-driving logistics vehicle at The Computing Conference in Hangzhou. The company disclosed that the car is still under testing.
Developed by Alibaba AI Labs, the new driverless van eliminates the driving cabinet but two displays are embedded in each side of the car, informing other vehicles or pedestrians of its next move. Designed for urban logistics delivery, the car can travel at a speed of 30 to 40 kilometers per hour (19-25 mph) with a carrying capacity of several tons.
Velodyne’s 16-line laser radar is used on the front and rear and sides of the vehicle. The roof is equipped with a Velodyne 32-line laser radar, a binocular camera, and 5 monocular cameras. Other sensors such as RTK (real-time kinematic) and ultrasonic radar are hidden in the body.
High accuracy localization is achieved through multi-sensor fusion positioning based on Lidar, camera, RTK, and other sensors, says Chen Lijuan, head of Alibaba AI Labs. The accuracy error is controlled within 20 cm, she noted.
With the help of Alibaba’s cooperative vehicle-infrastructure system (CVIS), the new van will be able to detect all traffic participants in real-time and therefore guarantee better on-road safety. Leveraging the abilities of roadside perception stations, the reliability of the autonomous driving technology can be highly improved and the cost will be significantly reduced, Chen pointed out.
During the event, Hangzhou authorities have issued a license for Alibaba to road-test its autonomous vehicles. With this Hangzhou joined a series of Chinese cities that are open to autonomous driving technologies, such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Chongqing.
In addition to AI Labs, Alibaba’s logistics unit Cainiao also tapped the self-driving sector with a driverless van for logistics delivery.