China Breaks Into The Self-Driving Market

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Baidu is Google’s biggest competitor in China. In fact, in that market, it is far, far larger than Google. It’s the country’s largest search engine company by a large margin. Last year, Baidu announced another area where it will be competing with the US tech giant: driverless cars.

At the end of 2015 we finally got to see what they’ve been cooking up as car hit the streets. The modified BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is now being tested on public roads, on a 30 kilometre, designated test route, beginning at Baidu’s Beijing HQ and looping back to it. Part of the test route goes through Beijing’s incredibly busy ring roads.

“The car demonstrated full autonomy on the entirety of the route and successfully executed driving actions including making right turns, left turns and U-turns, decelerating when detecting vehicles ahead, changing lanes, passing other cars, and merging into traffic from on-ramps and exiting from off-ramps. The car speed peaked at 100 kph during the test runs,” said Baidu in a statement.

Baidu’s car “is the first in China to have demonstrated full autonomy under mixed road conditions,” according to the company.

“We’ve tested the car at night and day, as well as in medium rain, and – since this is Beijing – in smog of course. The models we’ll develop next year will have even more sensors, and we believe it will be able to handle all weather and road conditions,” a Baidu spokesperson told Tech in Asia.

The car may be BMW’s, but the “AutoBrain,” as it’s called, is all Baidu. It’s the child of the company’s augmented reality focused Institute of Deep Learning.