Analysts believe Baidu will probably charge for the automation layer and its services, while getting the benefits of open source.
The success of Baidu’s open platform is likely to depend on the business model Baidu decides to pursue globally.
Magney noted, “Baidu get the benefits of open source, lots of development and innovation, and vehicles get produced with it.” But he suspects that Baidu will probably charge for the automation layer and its services. “It could be a subscription for the localisation assets (maps), elements of the software stack or the enablement of in-app features.”
Figure 1: Baidu autonomous cars lined up ready for test drives.
Under this scenario, “Baidu could have millions of autonomous vehicles using their cloud-based Automated Vehicle platform,” Magney said. “Their platform essentially becomes the operating system for managing seas of vehicles sort of like the ‘Internet of Vehicles,’ allowing autonomous vehicles to move seamlessly together. Once you get critical mass you gain momentum from the developer community. Again, same as the Android model, with rapid innovations… but a premium layer on top of the open source that Google monetises.”
Magney’s gut feeling tells him that American and European OEMs will resist this approach. “They don’t want to give up that much control.”
Magney suspects, “At the end of day it may come to this but it is going to take a while.”
He’s painting a fairly frightening future, though. If carmakers finally give in to a model like this, “it may become harder to differentiate within the era of fully autonomous vehicles.”
First published by EE Times U.S.