Baidu, Softbank deliver self driving buses to Japan .

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        Chinese search engine giant Baidu  have partnered with Softbank subsidiary SB Drive and manufacturer King Long to deploy a self-driving mini bus service to Japan early next year.

        The agreement was announced at Create Baidu, the company’s annual AI developer conference in Beijing. Under the agreement, a version of Baidu’s Apolong autonomous mini bus will be exported to Japan from China in early 2019. This agreement, which for now includes an order of 10 buses, marks the first time autonomous vehicles will be exported from China.

        Apolong, co-developed with King Long, is outfitted with Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving system, which is capable of Level 4 operations, a designation by automotive engineering association SAE International that means the vehicles take over all driving in certain conditions. The buses, which will initially deployed in tourist spots, airports, and other controlled, or geo-fenced areas.

        Baidu announced earlier at the conference that it has started volume production of the autonomous mini buses in partnership with King Long. The buses are being produced at King Long’s manufacturing facility in Xiamen, in southeastern China’s Fujian province.

        TechCrunch reports Baidu’s Chairman and CEO Robin Li introduced the milestone while livestreaming the 100th bus rolling off of the production line to more than 6,000 attendees at Baidu Create 2018 in Beijing.
        Some 116 partners are now on the Apollo platform, including new partners Jaguar Land Rover, Valeo, Byton, Leopard Imaging and Suning Logistcs.

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