Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, and Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur, a taxi-hailing service, entered into a strategic partnership to share technology to help develop autonomous vehicles, Xinhua reported.
The deal with see Baidu provides Shouqi with its map service as well as its artificial intelligence (AI) platform DuerOS and Apollo autopilot software. Shouqi will help Baidu develop high-precision maps for self-driving cars, the state news agency said.
Shouqi, set up in 2015, operates more than 66,000 vehicles in 52 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.
The Apollo autopilot software, which is being developed at Baidu’s R&D facilities in California, is in direct competition with Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving initiative. Baidu established a self-driving vehicle unit in Silicon Valley in 2016 as part of an ongoing strategy started in 2013. It set the goal of having self-driving vehicles on the road in China by 2019.
Baidu in July formed a broad alliance with more than 50 automotive and tech companies to transform the Apollo platform into a global initiative.
The internet giant is partnering with five Chinese vehicle manufacturers: BAIC Motor, Chery Automobile, Chongqing Changan Automobile, FAW Group and Great Wall Motors. All are state-owned except Great Wall.