Chinese search engine Baidu Inc. announced on Friday the formation of a team in Silicon Valley focused on R&D for autonomous cars. The team will be part of Baidu’s newly-created Autonomous Driving Unit (ADU).
With the announcement, Silicon Valley becomes Baidu’s home turf for both their self-driving car team and Baidu Research’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL). Baidu has been working on self-driving cars since 2013, and aims to have them on the roads by 2018.
“Baidu is fully committed to making self-driving cars a reality,” said Jing Wang, SVP of Baidu and General Manager of Baidu’s Autonomous Driving Unit in a statement. “Autonomous vehicles will save lives and make transportation more efficient. Baidu’s Silicon Valley car team will play a significant role in building the car of the future.”
The newly-created Autonomous Driving Unit will add over 100 researchers in the next year, according to a release from the company.
Baidu wants the autonomous car to be like a ‘human driver’, said Baidu’s chief scientist Andrew Ng, stressing the importance of the company’s AI developments.
Baidu’s self-driving cars will be tested on roads in the United States as early as next month. In China, Baidu already has government support from a number of local Chinese governments, who are working with the company on autonomous bus routes. The company has also tested the autonomous BMW 3-series cars extensively on Beijing roadways.
LeEco is also looking to crack the autonomous vehicle industry with Silicon Valley research facilities. The company has their own driverless car unit, and are looking to develop super cars with Silicon Valley’s Faraday Future, the so-called ‘Tesla killer’. Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motors also opened a research center in Silicon Valley.
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