As part of its push to have fully autonomous vehicles ready for use by 2018 (for eventual use in a public shuttle service), the Chinese tech giant Baidu has begun testing specially modified all-electric Chery EQs in China, according to recent reports.
Previously, the company had been relying on specially modified BMW 3-Series vehicles for the testing of its autonomous driving technologies, so the news seems notable since it implies an electric self-driving shuttle service is getting quite a bit closer.
As some background here, one of the self-driving BMW 3-Series vehicles that were being used previously managed to successfully complete a rigorous 18.6-mile route in December, one that featured: u-turns, lane changes, and merging onto and off of highways.
Business Insider provides more, noting that “Baidu is planning to release the vehicles geographically, and is mapping routes with information like the height of traffic lights and location of curbs to successfully do so. Baidu is also testing its driverless cars in the US and has employees working on the project in its office in Sunnyvale, California.”
So, the company seems to be following a similar approach to that used by Uber, and an approach somewhat in contrast to that used by Tesla. Considering that foreign ridesharing firms have had a hard time trying to break into the Chinese market to date, however, Baidu seems likely to not have too much competition there once it’s got the technologies that it needs.
For more background information, see:
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