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Ford & Baidu to Test Self-Driving Cars in China

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【Summary】The Ford Motor Company and China’s Baidu launched a two-year project on Wednesday to test self-driving vehicles on Chinese roads. The move is another partnership between a tech company and established automaker in the race to develop autonomous driving technology.

Eric Walz    Oct 31, 2018 10:50 AM PT
Ford & Baidu to Test Self-Driving Cars in China
author: Eric Walz   

The Ford Motor Company and China's Baidu launched a two-year project on Wednesday to test self-driving vehicles on Chinese roads. The move is another partnership between a tech company and established automaker in the race to develop autonomous driving technology.

The project will start testing on designated roads in Beijing by year end, and possibly other Chinese cities, the two companies said.

The vehicles will be capable of operating autonomously in certain conditions by the time the project finishes development and testing, they said.

The project aims to achieve level-4 autonomy, which is considered highly-automated, meaning a vehicle can drive itself without human intervention in most cases. The highest tier Level-5, describes vehicles that should be capable of navigating roads without any driver input.

The internet search giant Baidu is considered the Google of China. The company is taking a lead role in self-driving technology in the country, just like Alphabet has done with its self-driving arm Waymo in the U.S. In June, Baudi said it would develop connected services, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital marketing in China.

Ford is facing slowing China sales and its collaboration with Baidu may boost it's presence there. Ford Motor Company China sales totaled 62,683 vehicles in August, representing a 36 percent decline year over year.

"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," Sherif Marakby, president and CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, said in a statement. "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." 

The Detroit-based automaker is joining Daimler, who is already testing self-driving cars in China. In July, Beijing the green light to Daimler to test self-driving cars on public roads, making it the first international automaker to be granted such a license.

Ford is also founding member of the Apollo Committee, an advisory group for Baidu's Apollo, an open autonomous driving platform.

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