Baidu and Chinese motor company partner to unveil latest home-grown driverless car

A BAIC-built self-driving vehicle, using Baidu technology, due make its debut in April at the Shanghai motor show, with road tests by end of year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 January, 2017, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 10:02am

China’s internet services company Baidu and the state-owned Beijing Automotive Group’s collaboration on telematics and autonomous driving is almost ready for its coming-out moment, as the industry and government join hands for a self-driving vehicle push within China.

A BAIC-built model, equipped with Baidu technology, would make its debut in April at the Shanghai motor show, Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC said on Friday at the trade show CES 2017 in Las Vegas.

The two companies also plan to conduct road testing of a car that will be autonomous in limited environments by the end of this year.

Watch: Baidu CEO says AI is next growth driver for company

Fleet of driverless Baidu cars takes to the road in Wuzhen

China has set a goal for 10 per cent to 20 per cent of vehicles to be highly autonomous by 2025 in the world’s biggest car market, and for 10 per cent of cars to be fully self-driving in 2030.

State broadcaster China Central Television began airing a five-part series this month on one of its prime time programmes to highlight the country’s efforts in autonomous vehicles and related technology.

“It’s a smart move for both to team up,” said Bill Russo, managing director of Gao Feng Advisory. “BAIC can bring manufacturing and Baidu can bring technology capability to solve mobility problems.”

Baidu sees AI giving it head start in race to develop self-driving car market in China

The cooperation with BAIC was Baidu’s most comprehensive, although the internet giant also was working with other carmakers on joint development of self-driving vehicles, Zhang Yaqin, president of Baidu, said on Friday.

The Beijing-based company was close to setting up a new research centre near Seattle, in the US, that would focus on artificial intelligence and cloud computing and security, he said.

Baidu formed a self-driving car team in Silicon Valley in April that it said would employ more than 100 researchers and engineers by the end of last year.

It is partnered with chip maker Nvidia Corp, has been testing its autonomous vehicles in eastern Chinese cities, including Wuhu and Shanghai, and earned a permit from California to test in the state last year.

BAIC, owned by the local government of Beijing, has made progress of its own.

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In April the motor company, whose joint-venture partners include Daimler and Hyundai, allowed customers to ride in self-driving cars on a test track.

China is seeking to shed its image as a cheap manufacturer of products with little value-added content.

The government is pushing its technology and manufacturing industries to create more sophisticated products and services in line with the global trend toward digitisation and internet connectivity.