Since appointing the former Microsoft executive Lu Qi as the new Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman, Baidu has reshuffled its senior management team and company structure to focus more on artificial intelligence.

One of the changes sees the former Vice Chairman Wang Jing, who has been leading Baidu’s autonomous car unit, put on hiatus. The autonomous car operations have been folded into the newly formed Intelligent Driving Group or IDG, which includes Baidu’s autonomous car, intelligent car, and connected car units. COO Lu Qi now heads this division. Other than autonomous car technology, the internet giant has also committed to a US $100 million investment in electric car maker NextEV.

According to an internal staff memo obtained by Caixin (in Chinese), Baidu regards autonomous and connected car technology and high accuracy mapping as two of the key drivers in the upgrade of traditional industries by artificial intelligence. This area is also an important strategic business and core competency for Baidu.

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Linda Lew

Linda Lew is a Beijing-based journalist who covers technology, start-ups and business in China. You can reach her at lindalew at aliyun dot com.