Chinese internet search giant Baidu is road-testing two prototype BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo autonomous cars in Beijing’s northern outskirts, with plans to announce its own autonomous car in China within three years.
Wang Jing, a Baidu senior vice president, told The Wall Street Journal that the company has set up a new business unit that will focus on autonomous vehicles for use as public transport.
Wang added that Baidu is in dsicussion with Chinese and foreign automakers as it is planning to expand its fleet. The company states that it wants future vehicles to run on fixed routes or within set urban areas.
“We will cooperate with some governments to provide shared vehicles like a shuttle service; it could be a car or van, but for public use,” Wang said.
Boston Consulting Group said in April that self-driving cars will not hit the road until 2025, but only in more controlled situations such as automated ride-sharing services.
In September, a prototype self-driving bus made by Chinese bus maker Zhengzhou Yutong Bus Co. Ltd. completed a 33-kilometer (20-mile) drive on an intercity road in central China.
Baidu said their autonomous cars will be equipped with a laser radar, or Lidar, and sensors and cameras with varying visibility ranges. Its software draws on Baidu’s highly detailed maps as well as its “deep-learning” technology.
The car has been tested on highways hundreds of times, with several trips each day, the company said.