2023 China Electric Vehicle Forum: Smart Driving Takes Over and Changes the Industry Again

Organized by the China Electric Vehicle Club (CEVC) and co-hosted by Tsinghua University, the Society of Automotive Engineers of China, China Automotive Industry Association, China Automotive Technology and Research Center, and China Automotive Engineering Research Institute, the China Electric Vehicle Club Forum (2023) was inaugurated in Beijing.

The forum invited representatives from relevant government departments and industry institutions in the automotive, energy, transportation, urban, and communication fields to engage in in-depth discussions on topics like the global automotive industry development trends, the high-quality development path for new energy vehicles, the Chinese intelligent connected vehicle development strategy, power battery supply-chain development tendencies, next-generation automobile consumption trends, automotive and energy co-development strategies, the new transportation energy security system, commercial vehicle transformation directions, automotive aftermarket innovation paths, and digitalization and intelligent manufacturing models for vehicles.

At the 2023 China Electric Vehicle Club, Li Zhenyu addressed the following points:

  1. By 2026, the penetration rate of advanced intelligent driving is expected to exceed 15%, bridging the gap of intelligentization, and the explosion of the intelligent driving market will lead to a new round of reshuffling in the automotive industry.

  2. Artificial intelligence endows intelligent vehicles with a super-brain, and in this process, using autonomous driving planning and control as an example, we have realized a paradigm shift from rule-based to self-learning algorithms, allowing self-learning algorithms to surpass expert systems and intelligently handle complex scenarios, greatly expanding the scope of autonomous driving design and operation.

  3. In the future, we believe that every car will be equipped with a digital virtual human, which can not only simulate a person’s appearance but also embody a soul, truly understanding human intentions, actively recognizing the environment and context, providing suggestions and ideas beyond the current command-based interaction, and transforming from a mere in-vehicle assistant to an omnipotent one.

  4. With the development of general-purpose artificial intelligence, AI will reduce the distance between users and automakers, resulting in closer relationships between users and brands. As vehicles become omnipotent assistants, automakers need to quickly establish skilled technical teams to help them capture diverse user needs across various stages, including demand definition, user operations, and product upgrades.

  5. Individual vehicle intelligence is like a headlight, while connected empowerment is like a streetlight. The combined approach of individual vehicle intelligence and connected empowerment, symbolizing the integration of vehicle, road, and city development, is the endgame of this evolution.

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Here is the original transcript:

Dear Chairman Wan, Chairman Qingtai, Minister Miao, leaders, and colleagues, good day! Today, I will share with you some of Baidu’s practices and thoughts in the automotive and transportation industries in the era of artificial intelligence. The topic of my sharing is: Embrace the “intelligent transformation” of the Chinese automotive industry through self-innovation.

It was also at this time last year that I remember Minister Miao once said, the Chinese automotive industry has made significant achievements in the first half of the new energy transformation, with the electrification penetration rate surpassing 15% in 2021, completing the “crossing of the chasm.” However, this is not the end. We predict that by 2026, the penetration rate of advanced intelligent driving will exceed 15%, completing the intelligence chasm crossing. At that time, the explosion of the intelligent driving market will trigger a new round of reshuffling in the automotive industry. As the industry consensus goes, the key to advancing from a big automotive country to a strong automotive country lies in the second half of automotive intelligence. The next three years are a crucial window, during which we believe artificial intelligence technology is the key to victory.

Regarding the past year, one of the biggest changes in the intelligent automotive field, in my opinion, is the actual implementation of autonomous driving in complex urban road scenarios in China. Currently, cities such as Beijing, Wuhan, Chongqing, and Shanghai have successively started fully autonomous testing and operations. Taking Baidu’s practice as an example, Baidu’s Luobo Kuaipao in Wuhan has a fleet of more than 100 fully autonomous vehicles, which has reached 1/3 of the number of special vehicles in the area, becoming a core force in the region. In this process, it took Baidu nine years to go from 0 to 1, but it only took a few months to go from 1 to 100 vehicles. We believe that as technology advances, more and more people will choose to trust autonomous driving. An example is that those who have experienced autonomous driving will choose to trust it even more.

In the field of artificial intelligence, AI has granted superbrains to intelligent vehicles. For instance, in the process of autonomous driving planning and control, the paradigm shift from rule-based to self-learning algorithms has been achieved. Self-learning algorithms surpass experience systems and can more intelligently handle complex scenarios, significantly expanding the design and operational scope of autonomous driving. In the past six months, as mentioned earlier, Baidu’s Luobo Kuaipao has expanded its operational area in Wuhan from 13 square kilometers to 530 square kilometers, covering a population of more than 1.5 million. In this process, many fully autonomous and long-distance orders have emerged. I recently noticed data from March that showed a user in Wuhan hailed a fully autonomous vehicle, which traveled 26.5 kilometers in total – equivalent to driving from the present Diaoyutai to Tongzhou.Translate the following Chinese Markdown text into English Markdown text in a professional manner, retaining the HTML tags within the Markdown and outputting only the result:

Again, when it comes to artificial intelligence technology, the recent hot topic is large language models. Just now, Academician Ouyang also mentioned ChatGPT, as well as Baidu’s “One Word of Wenxin”. We believe that all these would bring greater imagination to the automotive industry. Today, we’d like to share with you two possible innovation opportunities in this area.

First of all, we believe that artificial intelligence will reshape the automotive space, and the relationship between humans and cars will be completely different.

In the future, we believe that every car will be equipped with a digital virtual human. Why hasn’t this been achieved in the past? It’s because the virtual human might have existed, but it lacked both appearance and soul, as well as emotional intelligence, and it couldn’t act on its own. The future digital virtual humans will not only be able to simulate human appearance, but also be infused with a soul, truly understanding human intentions. In addition to the current command-based interactions, they’ll actively recognize the environment and context, proactively offering suggestions and ideas. They will also no longer be limited to the in-car assistant role, but will transform into omnipotent assistants, serving as drivers and navigators during driving, as tour guides during travel, as itinerary planners in daily life, and even as emotional counselors to chat with. With the development of general artificial intelligence, we can foresee that the intelligent cockpit will become a new focus of automotive innovation, reshaping its space and creating the so-called “RV” mentioned by Minister Ni, truly forming a new intelligent space.

Secondly, on the whole, we believe that as general artificial intelligence develops, artificial intelligence will shorten the distance between users and automakers, and the relationship between users and brands will become even closer. China now has 460 million drivers, and it would be difficult for automakers to provide one-to-one customized services to these users from both labor and cost perspectives. However, the artificial intelligence of the future will make it possible for every car to have a dedicated assistant, turning what was once impossible into reality. Thus, intelligent cars with natural language communication capabilities can enable automakers to directly engage in one-to-one dialogues with users. As cars become omnipotent assistants, automakers will face an explosive growth in user demand, and each company will need to quickly establish a team of expert engineers who have a deep understanding of human-machine interaction in automotive scenarios. Through training and interpretation of artificial intelligence capabilities, they will help automakers grasp every user’s needs in areas such as demand definition, user operations, and product upgrades. In the future, providing personalized product iterations and service expansion for every user will become a new differentiating competitive strength for automakers.Next, let’s discuss intelligent connected vehicles.

Qingtao’s Chairman once mentioned the need to look beyond the automobile industry in the new industrial revolution. The automotive revolution is not isolated; it triggers a systematic and ecological transformation. In this process, we believe that the value of connectivity empowerment is immense. As Chairman Wan mentioned, it allows for a comprehensive perspective and omnidirectional hearing. To illustrate, we have compared standalone vehicle intelligence to headlights, while the connectivity empowerment resembles streetlights. The complementary integration of vehicle intelligence and connectivity leads to a seamless development of vehicles, roads, and cities. For safety, we believe the connectivity empowerment is worth the investment.

Surrounding this concept, several ministries and first-tier cities have taken the lead in initiating globally-leading innovations and practices. For instance, in Beijing’s Yizhuang district, the nation’s first high-level autonomous driving demonstration zone has been established. In Guangzhou’s Huangpu district, they have pioneered the country’s first smart transportation operator model. In Shanghai’s Jiading district, the country’s largest vehicle-road-cloud collaborative service cluster has taken shape, forming a world-class intelligent connected vehicle ecosystem. In Wuhan, a globally-leading L3-level intelligent connected demonstration area is being built. In Yangquan, Shanxi, a model of intelligent connectivity for small and medium-sized cities is being demonstrated. As seen with the construction of subways ten years ago and the deployment of 5G five years ago, intelligent connectivity is becoming a vital symbol of urban comprehensive competitiveness.

Specifically, intelligent connectivity-enabled traffic management has gradually moved towards large-scale application, and travel efficiency has been moderately improved. With the resurgence of consumption and economic activities this year, vehicle traffic has increased significantly nationwide. In areas deploying AI traffic control, the connectivity empowerment has made congestion less noticeable. Taking Beijing’s Yizhuang as an example: vehicle traffic has increased by more than 80%, but congestion indicators have only risen by 6.7%. Additionally, in Baoding, Zhuzhou, Yangquan, and other cities, traffic has considerably increased, but congestion indicators are well controlled, demonstrating the notable improvement in traffic efficiency, thanks to intelligent connectivity-enabled traffic management.

In summary, the global development of artificial intelligence in recent times has occurred at an unprecedented pace. As an AI company, Baidu has been focusing on AI since 2021 and was honored as one of the first national AI open innovation platforms in autonomous driving in 2017. We are keenly aware of the imminent explosive demand growth for AI. In this process, Baidu Apollo adheres to the principles of open capabilities, shared resources, accelerated innovation, and continuous win-win cooperation. Together with our colleagues, we will seize market innovation opportunities to contribute to the modernization of China’s automotive industry and the realization of strong vehicle and transportation sectors. Thank you, everyone!Please provide the Chinese Markdown text for me to translate into professional English Markdown while retaining the HTML tags.

This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email bd@42how.com.