Ford Motor Company and Baidu, the Chinese technology company, announced Wednesday (Oct. 31) the start of a two-year joint self-driving vehicle test project, under which the two will further advance the development and on-road testing of self-driving cars in China.
In a press release, the companies said the collaboration is part of Ford's plan to promote and further advance autonomous vehicle technologies. “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, in the press release. “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 companies said 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 two will work together to develop and test autonomous vehicles that are designed to meet the Level 4 (L4) driving automation standard as defined by SAE International. That means that once development and testing are finished, the cars will be able to operate autonomously within a specific area and under certain weather conditions.
“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, in the same press release. “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 toward 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 Marakby serving as a board member. Ford said 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, the companies said in the press release.