Baidu to test autonomous cars under Ford and Volvo tie-ups

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Chinese internet giant Baidu is to start testing self-driving cars in China under separate deals with Ford and Volvo.

Ford and Baidu will start testing self-driving vehicles on Chinese roads by the end of this year

The agreement with Ford builds on existing collaboration between the two firms – Ford is a founding member of the Apollo Committee, an advisory group for Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platforms – and will see Ford and Baidu jointly test SAE Level 4-capable autonomous vehicles in Beijing under a two-year project.

Test vehicles have been equipped with Baidu’s Apollo Virtual Driver System (VDS) and related hardware and are ready for testing, which will take place on open roads in Beijing that are specially designated for autonomous vehicle testing, starting from the end of this year. The plan is to explore further opportunities in other Chinese cities in the future in accordance with local regulations.

“Working with a leading tech partner like Baidu allows us to leverage new opportunities in China to offer innovative solutions that improve safety, convenience and the overall mobility experience,” said Sherif Marakby, president and CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. “This project marks a new milestone in the partnership between Ford and Baidu, and supports Ford’s vision to design smart vehicles that transform how we get around.”

This was followed a day later by the announcement that former Ford subsidiary Volvo had reached an agreement with Baidu to jointly develop electric and fully autonomous drive-compatible cars with the aim of mass producing them for China, the largest car market in the world.

The agreement will see Volvo Cars and Baidu pool resources develop a fully autonomous car compatible with Baidu’s Apollo platform.

“With Baidu we take a big step forward in commercialising our autonomous-compatible cars, built on Volvo’s industry-leading safety technology,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “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.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.