(Image credit: BEE)

Joining hands with Chinese tech giant Baidu, Beijing Environmental Equipment Company, a subsidiary of Beijing Environmental Hygiene Group, launched seven autonomous driving vehicles for urban environment cleaning, local media is reporting.

Based on Baidu’s open-source autonomous driving platform Apollo, the seven autonomous driving vehicles launched on September 28 are designed to fulfill various tasks in urban city maintenance, such as swiping and washing the ground, collecting and transporting garbages, etc.

In addition, the cars are tailored to the tasks in different public spaces in shopping malls, industrial parks, pedestrian roads, and communities. The products are powered by various technologies including computer vision, precise positioning and cloud computing to increase cleaning efficiencies and lower labor work, according to the company.

This marks another step of Baidu to apply its autonomous driving technologies in solving the real-life problems. Before the tie-up, the Chinese tech company has entered strategic cooperation agreements with Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry on work on commercial driverless vehicles and Neolix for L4-class driverless logistics service. Both of the partnerships have entered mass-production.

Since launching the Apollo project in April 2017, Baidu has been ramping up partnerships in China and abroad. Apollo has attracted over 70 partners, including Hyundai Motor, ROS, esd electronics, Neousys Technology, and autonomous driving startups such as Momenta and iDriver+ Technologies. Baidu is also working with LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor manufacturer Velodyne and education platform Udacity which offer courses and competitions in autonomous technology.

China’s autonomous driving craze is gaining momentum while the government is adopting a more open attitude towards the new technology. Shanghai government, for instance, has begun the second phase of road testing for autonomous vehicles, allowing them to be tested on 12 public roads in Shanghai. A series of top players in the field, such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, NIO and SAIC, Pony.ai has reached partnerships with different cities to road test their driverless cars.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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