What happened: Chinese automotive manufacturer FAW Group’s iconic Hongqi, or Red Flag, car brand will launch an autonomous passenger car next year with the help of tech giant Baidu. The companies plan to produce a limited number of level four self-driving vehicles as part of a pilot, with a wider release in 2020. The cars will feature level four driving capabilities—fully autonomous within certain conditions.
Why it’s important: Hongqi has long been favored by China’s political elite, including Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who rode in the luxury vehicle in the 60s and 70s. The brand has recently been revived as part of a national push to promote homegrown products, releasing an electric vehicle, and soon, a self-driving car. Baidu’s partnership with the company is far from the first of its kind. Just this week, the tech giant announced partnerships with Ford and Volvo on autonomous vehicles. The Chinese government has named the tech giant one of four national champions in AI and aims to be a world leader in AI technologies, including autonomous driving, by 2030.