In an effort to push China to the forefront of the looming autonomous vehicle revolution, Baidu Inc. is now joining the effort to create a driverless car alongside tech and automobile behemoths like Google Inc. and Tesla Motors.
“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 Jing, Senior Vice President of Baidu Inc. "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 U.S., giving China the chance to catch up and seize leadership.”
To move this vision forward, Robin Li, Baidu’s co-founder and chief executive officer has focused on investing into deep learning, a sub-field of AI that could improve the automated tasks that autonomous vehicles would now be tasked to do.
They have also brought Andrew Ng on board, a renowned computer scientist who is an expert in robotics and machine learning.
Getting China into the autonomous driving technology game is a priority for Chinese Presiden Xi Jinping, who recognizes that this could be a way for Chinese manufacturers to push the envelope of innovation.
For Baidu, this lies in the company’s AutoBrain system—a self developed automated driving map that records 3D road data with accuracy to within a few centimeters, making it ideal for vehicle positioning.
According to Baidu who have already spoken to city authorities in China, they plan to have their technology available to 10 Chinese cities within three years. A small group of people willing to test out their vehicles in a closed environment is also available.