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AI-equipped self-driving cars purr into spotlight at WAIC

Visitors get chance to ride in them and experience the world of driverless vehicles during the three-day World Artificial Intelligence Conference which opened in Shanghai today.

Artificial intelligence-equipped self-driving cars have purred into the spotlight during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference yesterday, giving visitors and participants the chance to take a ride in them and experience the world of driverless vehicles.

The self-driving cars use camera, radar and a light detection and ranging system called LiDAR to start the vehicles which travel along a planned route in an autonomous driving experience area of the WAIC event. The vehicles can also turn left or right on their own, and interact with traffic lights and are able to decide whether they need to stop.

Besides self-driving cars, automobile companies are also displaying their self-driving trucks, driverless sweeper vehicles and self-driving sightseeing vehicles.

Pony.ai, a Beijing autonomous driving start-up which was founded in 2016, allows participants to test ride self-driving vehicles during the three-day WAIC. The company develops software and hardware integrated technology solutions for autonomous vehicles.

The start-up's self-driving cars have three LiDARs to detect the presence of objects, six cameras to capture images and three radars to measure the distance and speed of objects.

Through these advanced hardware as well as an algorithm developed by Pony.ai, the self-driving cars can keep in their lane, control the speed and recognize traffic lights without a human controlling the steering wheel.

"China's autonomous driving technology is expected to have a certain scale of commercial applications within two years," James Peng, chief executive officer of Pony.ai, said. "For example, self-driving vehicles are expected to be used in West Bund for scenic spot sight- seeing and shuttling between metro stations."

Shanghai-based Ebus Power, founded in 2015, displayed an electric self-driving bus equipped with an intelligent decision-making system consisting deep learning and big data at the WAIC. Capable of making emergency stops, changing lanes and navigating traffic lights, the bus traveled automatically along a designated route. A staff member from Ebus Power sat in the driver’s seat lest anything go awry.

Participants were also drawn to a driverless sweeper vehicle developed by Tongji University. The self-driving sweeper vehicle, which can recognize a red light from afar, decides on how long it needs to wait and adjusts the speed automatically. Its job is to clear rubbish in the autonomous driving experience area at WAIC.


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