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Baidu Collaborates with Bosch and Continental to Develop Driverless Technology

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【Summary】Partnering with Baidu is a huge win for the auto suppliers. Baidu already formed tight alliances with several successful, local auto manufacturers – such as BYD, Chery and BAIC.

Michael Cheng    Jun 10, 2017 7:25 AM PT
Baidu Collaborates with Bosch and Continental to Develop Driverless Technology

Baidu, a leading Chinese web service company, has big plans to commercialize self-driving technology. Earlier this year, the tech heavyweight announced plans to open its driverless platform (Apollo project) to streamline development.

To ensure the company's goals are met in a timely manner, Baidu has once again made a flurry of game-changing moves that could further shape the emerging industry. The business forged partnerships with Robert Bosch and Continental AG – two Germany-based auto suppliers. It's crucial to point out that Baidu made two separate deals with the establishments.

"Combining the know-how of a high-tech internet corporation with our expertise as the world's biggest automotive supplier, the alliance will promote the development of smart mobility in China," said Dirk Hoheisel, a member of Bosch's management board with responsibility for automotive systems integration.

Technology-sharing Ambitions

The three brands have a lot to offer in their respective partnerships. Baidu will share its expertise in artificial intelligence, connected cars, machine learning and autonomous platforms. With these technologies, the company will focus on developing systems using hardware provided by the German auto suppliers.

Bosch is a Tier 1 supplier – perhaps the top automotive supplier in the world, next to Denso. Over 60 percent of the brand's yearly sales are related to automotive hardware. Furthermore, it pioneered the manufacturing of ABS, a staple safety component in today's cars. In the driverless industry, the business has been quietly working on self-driving cars for around six years. Bosch intends to fulfill its end of the partnership with Baidu by providing hardware sensors and vehicle localization support via Bosch Road Signature.

Bosch currently has team of 3,000 engineers devoted to developing self-driving platforms in different parts of the world.

Continental, which is also a top automotive supplier, will be working on ADAS and hardware technology with the Chinese company. That partnership will likely be focusing on next-phase technologies for autonomous vehicles, incorporating intelligent mobility services and smart driving features. The auto supplier is also working with NIO, a China-based EV startup. In that collaboration, Continental is developing robust suspension systems and tires.

Connecting the World

Partnering with Baidu is a huge win for the auto suppliers. Baidu already formed tight alliances with several successful, local auto manufacturers – such as BYD, Chery and BAIC. Since the three businesses provide cars for Baidu to use for pilot programs, it is likely that Bosch and Continental will also get to apply their vehicular products to the cars.

Baidu is not the only company to form partnerships with Bosch and Continental. Google and Delphi already have ongoing collaborations with the auto suppliers. But again, the Chinese business has a lot to offer that most establishments can't – that is – a solid foundation and presence in China.

"In terms of self-driving cars, Baidu has hit a number of challenges and is realizing that it needs to partner or connect with many more established global players in the auto industry and self-driving technology industry to really get past those challenges," said Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting.

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