Baidu is one of the world’s largest internet companies, and is sometimes described as “China’s Google”, due to owning the country’s dominant search engine. The company is increasingly seen as a major player in artificial intelligence (AI), spending a significant fraction of its revenue on AI research. In September 2017, the company announced that it would be investing £1.1bn in its autonomous vehicle projects over three years.
Among other projects, it aims to launch China’s first self-driving bus.
Ford recently joined Baidu as a founding member of Apollo: its open-source platform for accelerating development of autonomous vehicles, which also includes automakers Honda, Hyundai and BMW, and which Baidu hopes will give it an edge over US competitors Tesla and Waymo.