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Jordan Perch loves automotive innovation and that is his ultimate passion. He is managing the resourceful DMV.com and is an active contributor to numerous consumer and automotive blogs.

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Chinese Tech Giant to Launch an Autonomous Vehicle by the End of This Year

Posted July 27, 2015 10:33 AM by Jordan Perch

As it turns out, automakers are not the only ones to be inspired by Google's driverless car project. Baidu, the Chinese web services company, recently announced that it is working on an autonomous car that it intends to launch later this year, which does seem to be a bit too ambitious, keeping in mind how long it took Google before it put its self-driving car prototypes on the road. But, considering that the Chinese tech giant is not doing it by itself - partnering up with one of the world's largest automakers, instead - it might have a chance of realizing its idea by the end of this year.


According to various media reports, Baidu has been working on autonomous driving technologies together with German automaker BMW since 2014, and has spent $10 million to buy IndoorAtlas, a Finnish company providing data mapping services, which is a significant acquisition, considering how important accurate maps are for self-driving cars. There has also been speculation that Baidu wants to acquire Nokia's HERE mapping service, which a couple of automakers, along with ride-sharing service Uber, also want to buy.


However, even though many people will probably say that Baidu's plans to launch a self-driving car is a direct challenge to Google, it should be noted that the concept that the Chinese search giant is working on is quite different than Google's. While Google is working on fully-autonomous cars that can operate without the help of a human driver whatsoever, Baidu's project involves a car that is equipped with various self-driving capabilities, but still needs driver input to handle certain traffic scenarios.


This means that the car that Baidu and BMW are developing will be able to perform certain maneuvers on its own, such as parking, cruising down the highway, or changing lanes, so that the driver can sit back and relax occasionally, but he/she will be able to take control of the vehicle at any given moment.


Also, Baidu does not intend on manufacturing a vehicle on its own, which is one of the reasons why it has teamed up with BMW. It will probably only stick to developing car navigation software and other smart car solutions, while the German car maker will be in charge of building the hardware.


It seems that Baidu has made a pretty smart decision choosing BMW as partner for its driverless car project, since the German manufacturer already offers many models with numerous autonomous features, such as piloted parking, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist, which will definitely help the Chinese search giant launch its semi-autonomous car faster.


Even though Google is probably far ahead of Baidu in terms of autonomous driving technology development, many auto industry observers believe that the Chinese company might have a chance of starting production of driverless cars sooner than Google. The general opinion is that China could adopt new legislation that would regulate the operation of these vehicles that rely heavily on artificial intelligence faster than the United States.

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