Baidu announced on Tuesday that its highway driver-assistance system will be available to customers for the first time via electric vehicle maker WM Motor. The search engine giant is rushing to lead the race in popularizing partially automated features on consumer cars in China.

Why it matters: Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) technology is increasingly considered a major stepping stone to fully autonomous vehicles. Major Chinese auto and tech companies are looking to seize the growing market potential.

Details: The new WM Motor W6 sports utility model will have 29 autonomous driving sensors and Baidu’s Apollo Navigation Pilot (ANP) software. The vehicle will have semi-autonomous driving capabilities, such as automated lane changes on highways, according to an announcement sent to TechNode on Tuesday.

  • Backed by Baidu since 2017, WM Motor announced it began delivering an earlier version of the W6 fitted with Baidu’s robotic valet parking feature at this year’s Auto Shanghai show.
  • Baidu has also been working with automakers, including Geely and GAC, aiming to supply its Apollo autonomous driving system to 1 million vehicles within five years, Reuters reported in April, citing Li Zhenyu, a senior vice president at Baidu.
  • No official release date for the updated WM Motor W6 was announced.

Context: Market research firm BlueWeave Consulting estimated that the global ADAS industry recorded $25 billion in revenue in 2020, and that number is expected to nearly triple by 2027, according to a Financial Times report.

  • In April, Huawei and its manufacturing partner BAIC co-launched the first consumer EV equipped with Huawei’s autonomous driving technology and are on track to begin delivery in the fourth quarter of this year.
  • Shanghai-based WM Motor delivered 13,378 vehicles in the third quarter of this year, representing a 137.5% increase from the same period last year, according to a statement (in Chinese).

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @yushan_shen