Baidu Plans Its Own Autonomous Car

Google’s equivalent in China, Baidu, has confirmed that it is working on its own autonomous car just months after Google unveiled its Google...

Google’s equivalent in China, Baidu, has confirmed that it is working on its own autonomous car just months after Google unveiled its Google Pod prototype. Baidu is, in case you have been living under a rock (or a coconut shell, as we say it here), a Chinese-language search engine and the leader of its kind in China.

Unlike the Google Pod, the word ‘driverless’ would be inaccurate if used in reference to Baidu’s car, slated for a 2015 reveal. According to Kai Yu, Deputy Director of Baidu’s Institute of Deep Learning, their approach differs quite a bit from Google’s: 

“Philosophically we have a fundamental difference to look at this type of things. I think in the future, a car should not totally replace the driver but should really give the driver freedom. Freedom means the car is intelligent enough to operate by itself, like a horse, and make decisions under different road situations.” 

Baidu's autonomous car is inspired by this.
Christine, the killer car.
Sure, a horse will proceed with minimal of ‘instructions’ or encouragement, and it will react accordingly to imminent dangers in the interest of self-preservation. Still, we’re not sure if the analogy is the most apt that Kai Yu could have used. A horse is a beast that has a mind of its own, which reminds us of Christine from Stephen King’s horror novel more than it does KITT from Knight Rider.
 
Baidu’s research labs in China and Silicon Valley are hard at work on this new car that, after we think about it, is simply a car with driver-assist features and nothing very different from what other automakers are doing now. Perhaps Baidu will focus especially on safety, considering that drivers and pedestrians alike in China are generally considered to be more reckless. While the Google Pod does not have a steering wheel, Baidu’s car will maintain one, said Kai Yu.
Google and China has long had a tumultuous relationship, with disagreements over the government’s strict control and censorship of online content, allowing Baidu and the other search engine, Soso, to claim most of the market share. Thus, Baidu is in the best position to provide autonomous vehicles for the good people of China, and will no doubt incorporate its other services into the vehicle; for instance, Baidu Map. Baidu already collects a huge amount of valuable location data that could be vital in planning the daily commute of the country's bounteous population and mitigating the Chinese cities notorious traffic jams. This could possibly be the greatest advantage for the Baidu car, when you consider that the Tesla Model S was shipped to China without what we would now consider a fundamental feature - a  navigation system; the reason given by Tesla is that Google Maps is not supported in the country.

image: erhai-rooms.co, labocadelmiedo.blogspot.com

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