Baidu is a Chinese search engine giant that has announced their plans to make self driving cars a reality for many car manufacturers around the world. They’re planning on doing this through the project called “Apollo”, which will let car manufacturers use software to help develop their own self driving/autonomous cars a reality.
According to the statement that was released by Baidu:
“China is the world’s largest market for automotive sales and production. It has many car brands and an open environment that is ripe for collaboration. Baidu took the initiative to open our autonomous driving technology to the industry in order to encourage greater innovation and opportunities, making better use of our technology to drive the evolution of the entire industry.”
“An open, innovative industry ecosystem initiated by Baidu will accelerate the development of autonomous driving in the US and other developed automotive markets. In addition, through open technology our technological achievements can be quickly applied to a wide range of fields — and accelerate even more achievements.”
“This is a great opportunity for those talent dedicated in autonomous driving.”
It appears that this recent venture is an effort to get partners who will help Baidu reach their goals of making cars autonomous by 2018. There was a recent partnership with BMW, but the two companies ended the partnership in 2016 after a two year working relationship.
Although BMW wanted to bring an autonomous car into existence by 2021, Baidu wanted to bring one forward by 2018. BMW felt this was a bit too ambitious and therefore ended the partnership.
Therefore, it makes sense that Baidu is ‘open to partnerships’ with the new Apollo project. According to Qi Lu, Group President and Chief Operating Officer at Baidu, the whole idea of sharing what they know with the automotive industry is to “create an open ecosystem that will accelerate the pace of innovation toward fully autonomous driving, which will have profound changes to our society'”