Carmaker Ford and Chinese technology company Baidu this week announced the start of a joint two-year project that will see the two companies working to advance the development and on-road testing of autonomous vehicles in China.
Separately, Volvo Cars has reached an agreement with Baidu to jointly develop electric and fully autonomous drive-compatible cars with a view to mass producing them for the Chinese market.
"With Baidu we take a big step forward in commercialising our autonomous compatible cars"
Ford’s partnership with Baidu will see the firms test autonomous vehicles designed to offer Level 4 autonomy, as defined by SAE International. Ford is a founding member of the Apollo Committee – an advisory group for Baidu’s Apollo open platform for autonomous driving.
“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.”
Zhenyu Li, Vice President and General Manager of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, said: “Baidu and Ford both believe in using technology to redefine the future of mobility.
“This project will combine our leading-edge technological know-how and understanding of China together with Ford’s vehicle expertise, marking a significant step forward towards Baidu’s goal of developing autonomous driving vehicles that will greatly benefit future consumers.”
"Baidu and Ford both believe in using technology to redefine the future of mobility"
Meanwhile, Volvo Cars said that it is the first foreign carmaker to collaborate so closely with Baidu on the joint development of customised autonomous driving cars. Under their partnership, both companies will be able to develop and sell the vehicles to Chinese consumers.
According to the agreement, the companies will pool resources to prepare for the mass manufacturing of fully electric and autonomous cars. Baidu will contribute its Apollo autonomous driving platform, while Volvo will provide access to its car industry expertise and advanced technologies.
“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.”
Baidu President Dr. Ya-Qin Zhang said: “We are very glad that Volvo Cars has established a strategic partnership with Baidu in the development of a fully autonomous car compatible with our autonomous driving platform Apollo.
“We look forward to working closely with Volvo to provide the world with the safest auto products for the benefit of humankind.”
Volvo sees autonomous drive as a key growth area, and expects to generate one third of its annual sales from autonomous cars by the middle of the next decade.