If Goggle can spend time and effort towards building self-driving cars, then how can China’s version of the search giant (and perhaps a larger one), Baidu be far behind? After having tested a self-driving car on the roads of Beijing, Baidu has decided to put self-driving buses on the roads within three years.
Baidu not only wants to be a pioneer in this segment for the region but also wants to go one step ahead and mass produce buses self-driven by its technology within the next five years. Baidu has already set up a business unit that is aimed at pushing the self-driven cars vehicles towards new boundaries. Baidu’ current Senior Vice President Wang Jing will be heading the unit as general manager.
Baidu has partnered with BMW AG to produce a fully automated vehicle that is aimed at mass transportation. This initiative from the two companies is stipulated to be on the roads in the next three years.
Its other home-grown giant, Alibaba Group Holding has also announced a similar plan of entering the self-driving car segment. The company founded by Jack Ma has announced that its version of a self-driven car will be produced in partnership with SAIC Motor Corp based in China. Globally Google and Apple are diving deep into this segment and are spearheading the innovation that will drive the vehicles in the future.
Back in September, Baidu officially announced that its first self-driven car had successfully completed a test run. The BMW 3-Series used for testing its automated technology drove around the streets of Beijing. As described by Baidu, the vehicle completed the complicated route without a scratch. Testing its technology for the first time on the busy streets of national capital, the vehicle was made to navigate an 18.6-mile route. On the streets and highways, the car completed all basic manoeuvres such as taking a turn, changing lanes, and overtaking other cars successfully.
Baidu has a long way to before it catches up with Google on this front. But, for China, Baidu can pat on its back and proclaim to be the first in the market. Baidu and BMW made official their partnership in June this year. It came nearly two years after the relentless research carried out by Baidu in this field. Baidu’s research lab began operating in 2013, and a team of researchers have been developing this technology since then.