Baidu accelerating automaker deals for car software deployment

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Baidu showcased a DuerOS-powered Chery’s EXEED TXL at CES Asia in Shanghai on June 11, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

Baidu is ramping up efforts to install its voice assistant DuerOS into cars in China as the government pushes for world leadership in intelligent connected vehicle technology by 2035.

DuerOS and the company’s internet of vehicle (IoV) platform, Apollo, has been installed on more than 300 car models from 60 auto brands to date, and will be installed in 200 more over the next two years, a Baidu executive said on Tuesday at this year’s CES Asia in Shanghai.

Li Zhenyu, vice president of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, said it had partnered with a number of automakers, including Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and China’s Great Wall Motors. Baidu announced in January that DuerOS has reached over 200 million devices, but did not reveal the total number of vehicles with the software. Alibaba stated in August that its AliOS was installed in more than 700,000 vehicles, mostly SAIC-brand vehicles.

Powered by DuerOS, vehicles from Ford, Chery, and Great Wall Motors are now capable of intelligent navigation and entertainment services including content from video-streaming platform iQiyi and Himalaya FM, an audio content app. He Fei, an executive from telecom operator China Unicom, said the two companies will partner to develop favorable payment plans for in-vehicle applications in the future.

Tencent announced in November its launch plan for entirely voice-enabled WeChat services as part of its Tencent Auto Intelligence (TAI) software. However, the company later postponed the release to the end of this year to address public concern over the safety of its touch screen interface, which the company said it was stripping completely out. “It is a difficult task, especially for natural language processing,” (our translation) Tencent’s Pony Ma said publicly late last year, Xinhua.net reported.

As past of its 2035 goal, the Chinese government plans to complete wireless vehicle communication network (LTE-V2X) buildout, product standards, and regulatory guidelines by 2020, according to a strategic plan released by the state planning department, National Development and Reform Commission, in January 2018.