Baidu looks to close self-driving car distance with new fund
Chinese internet giant Baidu, often described as the Asian Google, is hoping to catch up to its U.S.-based competitors in the race to put self-driving cars on the road. The company has announced a 10 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) fund, with the goal of speeding up the technical development of its autonomous driving program. The “Apollo Fund” is named in reference to Baidu’s open-source autonomous driving software, which saw its latest iteration (1.5) released alongside the fund’s announcement. It will invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years, according to the company.
Baidu’s share price has appreciated by 44% so far this year
SOURCE: Yahoo Finance
Baidu made its self-driving tech platform available to third parties earlier this year in an effort to accelerate development and catch up to firms like Waymo (Google’s self-driving car program) and Tesla. The latest release will let users access new obstacle perception technology, high-definition maps, and more.
Baidu’s efforts in autonomous driving are part of a wider move to embrace the world beyond search engines, diversifying its future revenue streams away from pure-play online advertising, which have become more strictly regulated in China. The company says it will have self-driving cars ready to run around China by 2020.
With 70 partners across a multitude of fields in the car industry, Baidu is in an increasingly strong position to pose a threat to western rivals. The next big challenge might be from the public sector rather than the private one, as Baidu tries to convince authorities to let it test its cars on Chinese highways.
Dominion holds Baidu in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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