Baidu announces 10 billion yuan autonomous driving fund

Online search company Baidu, which is developing self-driving cars through its open-source autonomous driving platform Apollo, has announced a 10 billion RMB ($1.5 billion) fund that will seek to invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years.

Baidu also announced the release of Apollo 1.5, the latest iteration of its platform, which the company says has now attracted 70 partners.

Since launching Apollo at its AI Developers Conference in Beijing in July, Baidu says that it has added more than 65,000 lines of new code to the platform, which it sees as the ‘Android’ of the car industry.

The company said that its latest iteration would help to accelerate the deployment of autonomous driving by adding five additional core capabilities: obstacle perception, planning, cloud simulation, HD maps and end-to-end deep learning.

In July, Baidu and Microsoft announced a partnership to use the latter’s Azure cloud to boost the scale of Baidu’s autonomous driving platform outside China.

The news came shortly after Baidu and NVIDIA announced an artificial intelligence partnership that will see them work together on Apollo.