What happened: US self-driving delivery startup Udelv announced that it’s using Baidu self-driving technology to trial a grocery delivery service for Walmart beginning in February. The second generation of Udelv’s delivery van, which is being shown at CES 2019, was developed using Baidu’s open-source autonomous driving software platform, Apollo 3.5. Udelv previously launched a delivery service in San Francisco and plans to hit roads across the US with as many as 100 self-driving vehicles in 2019 thanks to multiple partnerships.
Why it’s important: Udelv’s announcement highlights autonomous vehicles’ potential when it comes to last- and middle-mile delivery of goods. Unlike with self-driving cars for consumers, companies face fewer ethical quandaries and questioning. It also shows the long reach of Baidu’s AI expertise. Although the company already has permission to test its autonomous vehicles in California, Beijing, Fujian, Chongqing, and Changsha, Baidu has shown that it’s also open to different types of partnerships to deliver a variety of self-driving solutions.