Baidu plans to focus on autonomous cars image

The biggest search engine company in China wants to be more involved in the upcoming self-driving-car era, speeding up the development of autonomous technologies.

The Silicon Valley giants are all rushing to take part in the driverless-car era to come, pushing their efforts forward into the development of “smart” technologies which help vehicles to find their own way through traffic. But China will not stay away from this new upcoming trend, as the biggest Chinese search engine company – Baidu – revealed its intentions in this direction. The US companies already have a major head start, with Google beginning to develop autonomous cars in 2009 and testing self-driving vehicles for more than 2 million miles so far, while Tesla, General Motors and Ford are also making progress on their autonomous projects.

However, Wang Jing, the senior vice president in charge of Baidu’s self-driving efforts sees China to be capable of dominating this field in coming era of intelligent cars. “Chinese carmakers started making cars 100 years after others and a lot of the core technology aren’t in Chinese hands, such as engines” said Wang. “With electric cars, with intelligent cars, the core technology shifts from the engine and gearbox to artificial intelligence and that’s an area where China is very close to the US, giving China the chance to catch up and seize leadership.”

Baidu plans to have their autonomous cars running in ten Chinese cities within three years, starting to test them in a closed environment this year, he said. Wang also revealed that Baidu has been working with BYD, China’s leading electric car maker, to equip Baidu AutoBrain system, a software package that incorporates technologies for driving, observing the environment and decision-making to BYD’s vehicles. Wang did not exclude the possibility for Baidu to partner with US based companies.

Via Bloomberg