While a major section of the global auto industry and some of the major tech companies are engaged in a race to develop technologies for autonomous vehicle, US auto maker Ford Motor Co and Chinese tech company Baidu Inc has also jointly entered the race.
Both the company on Wednesday announced the launching of two year program for development and testing self-driving vehicles on Chinese roads.
The companies said in a statement that under the project, the two companies would jointly begin testing of their autonomous vehicles on designated roads in Beijing by the end of this year. The companies are also looking at undertaking the tests possibly in other Chinese cities as well.
The companies further said that by the time the project finishes the development and testing process, the autonomous vehicles would gain capability to operate by itself in certain road and environment conditions.
The project undertaken by the two companies would reach the so-called level 4 technology for autonomous vehicles by such time that the project gets completed. This level denotes self driving of vehicles but not under all terrain conditions. The highest level in autonomous technology is called level 5 and this level that is being hoped to be achieved would be a level lower than that. The level five denotes driverless driving of vehicles where the vehicles and autonomous technology would be able to more through traffic and all road conditions without any human intervention to give it directions. That means that vehicles that would be used in the tests are supposedly able to drive autonomously on roads without human intervention in certain areas and under proper weather conditions.
The various levels have been set by the U.S.-based industrial association SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) on public roads.
Baidu – China’s most popular search engine operator which is also recently engaged in development of self-driving tech and is the leader in of the technology in China, and Ford had announced in a joint statement in June that they would jointly develop connected services, artificial intelligence and digital marketing in China.
The U.S. carmaker Ford, which has been troubled with a drop in sales in the Chinese market, is also the founding member of the Apollo Committee which is an advisory group for the Apollo autonomous driving open platform of Baidu
Vehicles have been modified by Ford Motor’s engineers at the engineering R&D center in Nanjing and they have been installed with the autonomous driving system Apollo from Baidu. The companies informed that all those vehicles that are yet to be tests have been fitted with the required autonomous driving system and software.
In July, German auto maker Daimler AG was granted permission by authorities to test autonomous driving technology on the roads of China’s capital city Beijing. This is the first instance that a foreign company has been granted such permission in Beijing.
(Adapted from FinancialTimes.com & AutoNews.Gasgoo.com)