Baidu is seen to be seeking ways to build upon autonomous vehicles, as it is collaborating with various big companies.
Volvo Cars and Chinese internet giant Baidu have recently announced to join forces to develop and mass-produce self-driving electric cars in China. The financial details of the deal are not disclosed yet. In this deal, the Swedish carmaker would combine its expertise in advanced technologies in the auto industry with Baidu’s autonomous driving platform Apollo.
The firms aim to sell vehicles meeting Level 4 standard
The long-term aim for the firms is to sell vehicles that meet SAE International’s Level 4 (L4) standard for driverless vehicles — in a simplified manner — vehicles that do not require human intervention in certain conditions — to Chinese customers.
Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Cars, stated, “With Baidu we take a big step forward in commercializing our autonomous compatible cars, built on Volvo’s industry-leading safety technology.” He added, “There is a strong development in autonomous drive in China, where Baidu is a leading player, and the market there offers huge opportunities for us as the supplier of choice for autonomous fleets.”
Volvo, owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd., already aims to offer driverless models by 2021 using software developed by Zenuity, a joint venture with Sweden’s Veoneer AB. Reportedly; it is also working with Uber Technologies Inc. to develop autonomous systems for XC90 sport utility vehicles.
Baidu’s focus on vehicle automation
Baidu is one of 14 entities licensed to produce maps for autonomous vehicles in China. The company’s first self-driving autos will be developed with China’s Chery Automobile Co. and it also aims to make driverless cars in partnership with Chinese automaker BAIC Group by 2021. Lately, Ford Motor Co. and Baidu revealed a two-year autonomous vehicle test project with on-road testing slated to begin by the end of this year 2018.
China, a complex and challenging market
Getting into China poses particular challenges. The high-definition maps needed for cars to find their way safely without human help are out of bounds for non-Chinese companies, meaning anyone looking to sell driverless cars needs a local partner.