US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Google chairman Eric Schmidt Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

China Tech Giant Baidu to Develop Driverless Car

Alibaba and Tencent are also among the Chinese firms following Google's autonomous lead.

BEIJING – Chinese search engine giant Baidu plans to develop a driverless car, according to domestic media reports, following in the footsteps of fellow technology firm Google.

Several Chinese technology firms, including e-commerce company Alibaba and WeChat messaging app provider Tencent, have announced plans for cars, shaking up the traditional industry in the world’s largest auto market.

Baidu will work with a yet unknown auto manufacturer to introduce a driverless car by the end of this year, Wang Jin, a vice president of the company, was quoted by the Beijing-based Economic Observer as telling a conference on Sunday.

Baidu has previously worked on “semi-autonomous” cars with German automaker BMW.

 

Google is also developing a driverless car and has said it plans to test it on public roads this year around its headquarters in California. Alibaba is planning an “Internet car” that would use technology to provide a better driving experience, including e-commerce, digital entertainment, map and communications services. Tencent also has plans for an Internet-connected car, while Chinese video streaming platform Letv plans an electric vehicle. 

But analysts say details of the automotive visions of Chinese technology firms remain vague, and commercial production is unlikely.

Baidu’s announcement follows a series of scandals. The company was banned from competing in an international artificial intelligence competition next year after it was discovered that a team of researchers cheated this year.

Last month, it said it had launched anti-corruption investigations into an unspecified number of its own employees after reports three department heads were being probed.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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