Baidu, operator of China’s largest search engine and a national champion in autonomous driving, has launched its latest demonstration of self-driving buses in China, moving a step closer to the commercialisation of a mode of transport its sees as the future of mobility. The Nasdaq-listed company on Friday launched a commercial demonstration project in Longlingshan Park in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province. The buses will operate in a 5 kilometre range at driving speeds of 15 kilometres per hour, according to the company. Each vehicle will be manned by safety staff who can stop the bus in case of emergency. The level four self-driving buses – which can drive autonomously under certain conditions – were co-developed by Baidu and bus maker King Long United Automotive Industry Co. They feature a high degree of automation and do not have steering wheels. In July, Baidu announced that its first 100 self-driving buses had been built. The vehicles will be put into use in cities including Beijing, Xiongan, Shenzhen and Tokyo, Robin Li Yanhong, the company’s chief executive, said at the Baidu AI Developer forum held in Beijing. Autonomous vehicles are a key part of Baidu’s future as it seeks to reshape itself into a major player in artificial intelligence, in line with China’s national strategy to develop global leadership in the field. Last year, the Beijing-based company was hand-picked to spearhead the country’s effort in autonomous driving.