The competition to become the first successful and leading autonomous self-driving company deepens as Chinese tech giant, Baidu, has today received approval to test its driverless vehicles in California. It now joins the race previously led by Google, and recently by Tesla and Uber.
The company has revealed that California DMV has issued an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit which allows Baidu’s USA Research Team to begin testing its self-driving car technologies on public roads in California. Using its newly released fully-electric autonomous vehicle Chery eQ, the research team setup in Silicon Valley, will soon begin its own personal test runs to record and analyse mapping data.
The company will also be subject to similar requirements imposed on other automobile(or tech) companies who are testing their autonomous vehicles in the state. And this means that the autonomous testing vehicle cannot be driverless and must have a driver and driving controls present in it at all times.
While Baidu SVP Jing Wang says that it will soon start testing autonomous driving technologies on public roads in the city of California, but there is currently no word on the progress of tech innovation and recruitment in the Silicon Valley research center. This news, however, is sure to boost morale and efforts to put a fully-operational autonomous vehicle out for testing.
It is also important to shed light on the fact that Baidu has plans to ship the perfected technology back to China, and commercialize the self-driving in the future. It is currently aggressively committed towards research and testing, to push ahead of other competitors who’ve been in the game longer than them. The Chinese behemoth has also set sight on mass production of driverless cars by 2021.
Cloud-to-Car Platform for Self-driving vehicles
While developing autonomous self-driving vehicles, Baidu is also stepping foot into the much-talked field of Artificial Intelligence in partnership with NVIDIA.
The two tech giants will be combining forces to build a comprehensive autonomous cloud-to-car driving platform. It will combine Baidu’s cloud platform with NVIDIA’s self-driving computing platform to develop a host of solutions, including HD maps, Level 3 autonomous control and automated parking.
This cloud-powered solution will make autonomous driving safer, significantly reduce road accidents, and make transportation accessible to all. It will be built upon NVIDIA’s in-car AI supercomputer development platform and Driveworks software. These solutions will also be accessible to local Chinese automakers as well as global brands.
Commenting on the partnership, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said,
We can start applying these capabilities to solve the grand challenges of AI, one of which is intelligent machines. One of the intelligent machines we would like to build in the future is the self-driving car.
We’re going to bring together the technical capabilities and the expertise in AI and the scale of two world-class AI companies to build the self-driving car architecture from end-to-end, from top-to-bottom, from the cloud to the car.