(Yicai Global) Oct. 16 -- Baidu Inc. [NASDAQ:BIDU] and BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. [HKG:1958] have reached an agreement that could see the pair mass producing autonomous cars by 2021.
The two held a signing ceremony in Beijing on Oct. 13 at a research and development base, Sina Tech reported. Baidu's autonomous driving platform Apollo will provide artificial intelligence, vehicle data security and image recognition technology for the cars.
The companies hope to achieve Level 3 autonomous vehicle production by 2019, which allows drivers to take their eyes off the road until prompted to take control by the car. By 2021, the pair hope to be mass producing Level 4 cars, which alleviate the driver of the need to control the vehicle within certain areas.
Autonomous driving levels are set by SAE International, previously known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. The levels run from 0, in which cars simply provide warnings to drivers and are unable to control themselves, through to 5, which is completely autonomous in all conditions.
BAIC's vehicles will be fully equipped with the Apollo system by the end of next year, and by the end of 2019, a million units be equipped with the software. The duo will also team up in cloud services, smart transport and other areas.
Over a hundred years ago, automobiles profoundly changed the way people travel and created a new industrial system, said Li Yanhong, president of Baidu. He hopes the partnership with BAIC will help bring this automotive industrial system into a new, historical era.