Volvo has teamed up with Chinese web giant Baidu for the development of electric, autonomous cars, with the aim to mass produce and deploy them in China.
Baidu, owner of China’s most popular search engine as of this year, will contribute its Apollo autonomous driving platform to the automaker’s models.
Both companies will now “pool resources” with the aim to develop and sell the vehicles to Chinese customers.
It follows Beijing’s traffic authority having given the all clear for self-driving Baidu cars to be tested on the city’s roads.
President of Volvo Hakan Samuelsson said: “With Baidu we take a big step forward in commercialising our autonomous compatible cars, built on Volvo’s industry-leading safety technology.
Volvo’s Leading Safety Record
“There is a strong development in autonomous drive in China, where Baidu is a leading player, and the market there offers huge opportunities for us as the supplier of choice for autonomous fleets.”
“The idea is to develop a car — our part is the car, their part is the software,” said Samuelsson, as reported by Bloomberg.
President of Baidu Dr ya-Qin Zhang said the partnership will provide the world with the safest automobile products “for the benefit of humankind”.
Volvo said it is the first foreign car maker to collaborate this closely with Baidu. It was chosen for its safety credentials, which have included a maximum rating for its XC40 from the Euro NCAP.
Volvo added that it expects to generate a third of all annual sales from autonomous cars by the middle of the next decade.
Baidu’s Apollo platform features sensors, such as LiDAR, cameras, and radar, for more accurate perception of a vehicle’s surroundings; HD mapping using AI and machine learning; and a planning system that helps the vehicle adapt to changing traffic conditions as it drives.
It also features a “simulation” capability, which virtually drives ahead to work out the best driving scenarios based on road types, obstacles, traffic lights, speed limits, and more.
Last year, Baidu opened up access to Apollo to other developers to help them develop their own self-driving systems.
Baidu is also working with Intel’s Mobileye for the adoption of the latter’s Surround Computer Vision Kit for better vehicle visual perception.
China is likely to become the single largest market for autonomous cars globally; HIS Markit predicted that autonomous vehicle sales will surpass 33 million annually in 2040.
The US will lead in initial deployment and early adoption of autonomous vehicles from next year, it said, while Europe and China are expected to contribute considerable volume from 2021.