Ford Motor Company and Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) today announced the commencement of a two-year joint autonomous vehicle test project, where it is hoped that the two companies will further advance the development and on-road testing of autonomous vehicles in China.
The AV tests will be conducted on open roads in Beijing that are specially designated for AV testing, with the option of exploring further opportunities in other Chinese cities in the future in accordance with local regulations.
The Baidu-Ford L4 Autonomous Vehicle Test Project is a two-year initiative, with on-road testing slated to begin by the end of this year. The project will see Ford and Baidu cooperating to develop and test autonomous vehicles that are designed to meet the Level 4 (L4) driving automation standard as defined by SAE International. This means that upon completion of the development and testing process, the vehicles will be capable of operating autonomously within a specific geographic area and under certain weather conditions. (Ford, Zotye Ink Chinese JV Agreement on Electric Vehicles, Ford Smart Mobility, Zotye Ink MOU on Chinese Ride Hailing, Ford Motor Creates Stand-Alone China Business to Stop Loses in Its Latest Asia Pacific Shakeup)
A team of Ford engineers at the company’s Nanjing Research and Engineering Center (REC) was set up to convert the vehicles into Autonomous Vehicle Platforms (AVPs) to prepare them to be fit with Baidu’s Apollo Virtual Driver System (VDS). All vehicles have now been equipped with the Virtual Driver System (VDS) and related hardware and are ready for testing.
The collaboration is said to be aligned with Ford’s plans to further advance and promote autonomous vehicle technologies, supporting the company’s vision of designing “smart vehicles for a smart world.”
“Baidu and Ford both believe in using technology to redefine the future of mobility,” said Zhenyu Li, Vice President and General Manager of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group. “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.”
Ford is a founding member of the Apollo Committee, an advisory group for Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform, with Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC president and CEO Sherif Marakby serving as a board member. The new project builds on the existing collaborative partnership between the two companies. Ford and Baidu have also previously agreed on and started to explore new opportunities for cooperation in areas of connectivity, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.
Baidu, Inc. is the leading Chinese language Internet search provider. Baidu aims to make a complex world simpler for users and enterprises through technology. Baidu’s ADSs trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “BIDU.” Currently, ten ADSs represent one Class A ordinary share.