BMW Joining Baidu's Apollo Autonomous Driving Platform

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【Summary】Chinese internet search giant Baidu and Germany’s BMW Group today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the BMW Group to join Baidu’s Apollo, the company’s open autonomous driving platform, as a board member.

Eric Walz    Aug 16, 2018 4:00 AM PT
BMW Joining Baidu's Apollo Autonomous Driving Platform

Chinese internet search giant Baidu and Germany's BMW Group today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the BMW Group to join Baidu's Apollo, the company's open autonomous driving platform, as a board member.

The partnership was made official during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Germany on July 10 to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The MoU marks the beginning of a new partnership on autonomous driving between the BMW Group and Baidu.

"BMW Group and Baidu have a long history of working together on advancing autonomous driving technology, and we have maintained a strong relationship throughout the years. BMW Group and Baidu have been actively exploring the intelligent vehicle sector and are well-aligned in our vision for the future of autonomous driving," said Ya-Qin Zhang, President of Baidu. "Our aim is to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technologies that align with the Chinese market," he added.

Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for development, said "With BMW Group and Baidu joining forces we can significantly accelerate the alignment of specific requirements and technological approaches to turn the vision of autonomous driving into reality for Chinese customers very soon."

The BMW Group is developing an autonomous driving platform for level 4 and 5 highly automated driving systems, as well as for advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). This scalable autonomous driving solution is being developed with technology from OEM partners, including Intel's Mobileye.

Baidu's Apollo, launched in April 2017, is a robust, open platform that provides a comprehensive, secure and reliable solution that supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle. Since launching last year, over 100 industry partners have joined, including tech companies Intel and Microsoft, as well as automakers Daimler and Ford.

In addition to providing HD maps with five centimeter accuracy, the Apollo platform includes the world's first open autonomous driving simulation engine and deep learning algorithms, so a vehicle's self-driving capabilities can get better over time.  Baidu said its Apollo GitHub repository is the "most vibrant" of its kind in the industry, which has more than 10,000 developers contributing code for Apollo.

Last week, Baidu announced Apollo 3.0, the latest iteration of the platform. The latest version includes new solutions that supporting valet parking and integration with Baidu's voice-activated telematics software, which adds facial recognition to monitor drivers for signs of fatigue, and provide other personalized services.

Baidu's roadmap for Apollo includes developing an autonomous system capable of city driving by 2019, with support for fully-autonomous highway driving by 2021.

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