Ford and Baidu team up to test self-driving vehicles in China
Ford and Baidu have completed test vehicle modification and will embark on a two-year project to jointly test the SAE Level 4-capable autonomous vehicles in Beijing
The project deepens Ford and Baidu’s existing partnership, with Ford a founding member of the Apollo Committee, an advisory group for Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform
As we reported this morning, Ford Motor Company has joined forces with Baidu to collaborate on a two-year joint autonomous vehicle test project to develop and test self-driving vehicles on designated roads in Beijing by the end of this year, and possibly other Chinese cities, both companies said in an announcement on Wednesday. This joint project is part of Ford’s plan to further advance and promote autonomous vehicle technologies, supporting the company’s vision of designing “smart vehicles for a smart world.
Founded in 2000 by Eric Xu and Robin Li, Baidu is the largest Chinese language Internet search provider and search engine that enables individuals to obtain information and find what they need. Baidu offers functional online search, Tieba community search, industry-based vertical search, mp3 search, portal channels, and instant messaging services. Its products include Baidu Webpage, Baidu Video, Baidu Map, hao123.com, BaiduPedia, Baidu Input, Baidu Toolbar, TTPlayer, Iqiyi, and Sky Software.
“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,” said Sherif Marakby, president and CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. “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 Baidu-Ford L4 Autonomous Vehicle Test Project is a two-year initiative, with on-road testing slated to begin by the end of this year. The project will see Ford and Baidu cooperating to develop and test autonomous vehicles that are designed to meet the Level 4 (L4) driving automation standard as defined by SAE International. This means that upon completion of the development and testing process, the vehicles will be capable of operating autonomously within a specific geographic area and under certain weather conditions.
In the lead-up to the kickoff, a team of Ford engineers at the company’s Nanjing Research and Engineering Center (REC) was set up to convert the vehicles into Autonomous Vehicle Platforms (AVPs) in order to prepare them to be fit with Baidu’s Apollo Virtual Driver System (VDS). All vehicles have now been equipped with the Virtual Driver System (VDS) and related hardware and are ready for testing. The AV tests will be conducted on open roads in Beijing that are specially designated for AV testing, with the option of exploring further opportunities in other Chinese cities in the future in accordance with local regulations.
“Baidu and Ford both believe in using technology to redefine the future of mobility,” said Zhenyu Li, Vice President and General Manager of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group. “This project will combine our leading-edge technological know-how and understanding of China together with Ford’s vehicle expertise, marking a significant step forward towards Baidu’s goal of developing autonomous driving vehicles that will greatly benefit future consumers.”
Ford is a founding member of the Apollo Committee, an advisory group for Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform, with Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC president and CEO Sherif Marakby serving as a board member. The new project builds on the existing collaborative partnership between the two companies. Ford and Baidu have also previously agreed on and started to explore new opportunities for cooperation in areas of connectivity, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.
Ford Motor company is a global and American multinational automaker headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions.