We believe the approach of creating a car that can autonomously drive everywhere and be safe everywhere is beyond today’s technology. Instead, we are looking initially at shuttle routes and bus routes, routes that are, perhaps, a modest 20 miles, driven in a big circle, or back and forth.We think if all you are doing is driving a 20-mile route, the technology is indeed within striking distance of making that safe. We plan to commercialize this in three years and will be moving aggressively to get this to market.
Checking in with Andrew Ng at Baidu’s Blooming Silicon Valley Research Lab - IEEE Spectrum:
It is an (un)interesting approach that use shuttle bus as a start point. The environment is more predictable, and cost saving is fairly easy to materialize. Just think about the mass transit that happens daily in the giant manufacturing facilities, such as Foxconn campus.
Several such tests already started. The first self-driving bus to operate on fully public roads debuted in the Netherlands in Feb 2016. A pilot project by French Easymile is scheduled to bring two driverless shuttles to an office park in Bay Area in summer 2016.
I took a lot courses from Coursera, which Andrew Ng co-founded, including the famous Machine Learning he taught. Best wishes to him, and no matter who wins the race to get first truly autonomous driving application, it is win for the technology, and a major advancement on the journey of Homo Sapiens.