Baidu introduces DuerOS and driverless car platform Apollo

China’s search engine giant Baidu, which claims itself as an AI company, introduced its voice interaction system DuerOS and driverless car open platform Apollo 1.0 on Wednesday at its first AI developers conference Baidu Create 2017 in Beijing.

Similar to Amazon’s Alexa, DuerOS allows users to interact with gadgets through voice recognition. It can help users manage calendars, inquire about the weather, search for the best restaurants, and so on. HTC’s new flagship smartphone HTC U11 is among the first products to be powered by DuerOS.

Photo by Alex Liao/AllTechAsia

Baidu announced that it bought Seattle-based AI startup KITT.AI to strengthen DuerOS’ natural language processing ability.

As compared to DuerOS, Baidu’s driverless car platform Apollo attracted more attention.

Previously introduced in April this year, Apollo aims to enable developers to build their own auto driving systems with the help of Baidu’s software, hardware and services.

Lu Qi, Baidu group president and COO, announced that Baidu will open Apollo 1.0 to all developers to enable them to develop entry level driverless cars that can only run in a closed area.

Lu claims that Apollo has been working with over 50 partners to develop driverless cars including China car manufacturer Chery. He also said that Baidu will set up Apollo companies in Singapore and the United States.

“I hope that China will lead the global driverless car industry in three to five years,” said Lu at the conference. “Apollo will help China to achieve this goal.”

(Top photo from Baidu)

Baidu furthers AI application in smart homes and jointly launches a childcare robot

Baidu’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology just saw progress in smart home commercialisation.

Baidu and Ainemo, a Beijing-based consumer electronic startup, on Friday jointly launched a “home robot” named “Fenshenyu”. The “robot” is powered by Baidu’s AI assistant platform DuerOS. Although it is announced as a robot, the gadget is more like an iPad with accessories. It cannot move freely and has an independent camera.

“DuerOS is an important platform for Baidu in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), as an innovative integration of AI and smart home hardware enabling objects to communicate and interact with human beings,” said Qi Lu, Baidu’s Group President and COO at the GMIC 2017.

Qi Lu
Qi Lu speaking at the launch event. Photo from Baidu.

So far, DuerOS has over 70 native capabilities including voice activation, voice broadcasting, and video chat. It has partnered with domestic and international electronic companies such as Midea, Haier, and Harman.

The new robot is an AI-powered, voice-controlled family robot with video chat and streaming capabilities developed by these two companies. The new gadget, priced at RMB 3,299 (USD 478), supports remote controls via mobile phone and is able to conduct video chats within ten meters.

The Fenshenyu robot. Photo from Baidu
The Fenshenyu robots. Photo from Baidu

Baidu aims to build an operating system in the AI era, and focuses on applications for the operating system in a number of areas including family life, which is also a sector where Baidu hopes to see its AI technology achieve commercialisation. In February, Baidu acquired a digital assistant startup Raven Tech, which has launched a Siri-like app.

(Top photo from Baidu)