Baidu signed a cooperation agreement on June 7, the first day of the CES Asia conference, with multiple companies in the autonomous vehicles industry. The companies listed in the press release include Desay SV, United Automotive Electronics, and Hangsheng Electronics, as well as possibly additional auto manufacturers. Baidu plans to "jointly develop" upcoming intelligent driving production plans.
The partnerships are focused on BCU ('Baidu automatic driving dedicated computer program') and MapAuto. It was also reported on June 7 that MapAuto and the voice recognition program "Duer OS Auto" will be developed by Baidu and Hyundai together.
Baidu is contributing to its partners in the areas of artificial intelligence, automatic driving, and data assistance. Baidu creates both hardware and software for autonomous vehicles that can be adapted by manufacturers to help their own vehicles handle tasks like perceiving obstacles and navigating. The other companies are mostly auto manufacturers, and the partnerships could accelerate movement towards the commercial availability of autonomous vehicles.
The partnerships contrast with Baidu's difficulties earlier this year when Andrew Ng — their top expert for AI — resigned shortly after reports that hackers had attempted to steal the company's trade secrets.
According to Gasgoo, Baidu said:
"In the future Baidu will empower partners with greatest sincerity and continue to explore new cooperation mode with more manufacturers, in order to make China intelligent driving early step into the production stage and achieve 'corner overtaking.'"
In April, Baidu announced their "Apollo Plan" for autonomous vehicles. They intend to promote the development of driverless technology by sharing its platforms with others companies. The new partnerships seem to align with that plan, and with Baidu's goal for there to be an autonomous vehicle on the market by 2018.