Baidu, Volvo Join Hands to Build Electric Autonomous Cars

Baidu Suzhou Branch Office, located in Suzhou Industrial Park. It is nicknamed "One hundred poison" for advertisement issues. (Photo: Shwangtianyuan / Wikimedia Commons)

Chinese tech giant Baidu is one of the pioneering force when it comes to autonomous cars in China. The company has formed a partnership with American automaker Ford in an effort to develop and test self-driving cars. Recently, Baidu announced that it is also striking the same type of deal with another automaker, this time around with Swedish carmaker Volvo.

On Thursday, Baidu and Volvo announced that the two companies have reached an agreement in order to jointly develop electric autonomous cars. These cars will be designed strictly for the Chinese market. Reports claim that the goal of the two companies is to develop a mass-produced car with Level 4 autonomy specifications and will specifically target China's growing demand for both autonomous and electric cars.

Volvo, with its wealth of experience in auto manufacturing, will design and build the car needed for the venture. On the other hand, Baidu, which is a tech giant, is expected to share its open-source framework. This framework, named Apollo, is expected to exponentially help the development of the electric driving car.

Baidu's Apollo project has about 90 different partners. The project counts top brands like Nvidia, Bosch, and Hyundai as its partners. Many tech analysts believe that by tapping Baidu's Apollo project, it will be much cheaper and more efficient to develop an autonomous vehicle.

In its press release, the Swedish carmaker highlighted that China is expected to be the world's biggest market when it comes to autonomous vehicles. The company predicts that by 2040, China will be home to nearly half of the world's total autonomous vehicles. Both Volvo and Baidu are expecting to unveil their creation by 2020.

This is not the first time Volvo has agreed on a joint venture to develop autonomous cars. The company has supplied Uber with a fleet of XC90 SUVs. Uber, on its part, uses these cars in the development of its own self-driving technology.

What separates Volvo and Baidu's partnership from previous arrangements is that the former will design a new car completely from scratch, instead of just lend out some of its cars from its current line-up. According to Automotive News, Volvo's SPA2 platform is the most likely candidate for Baidu's new car considering that they are planning to achieve Level 4 autonomy.

On the other hand, German carmaker Daimler was the first company to receive a permit to test some of its Level 4 technologies in China in July.

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