Ford Motor Company and Baidu have announced their plans for a two-year joint autonomous vehicle test project. Under the initiative the two companies will further advance the development and on-road testing of driverless cars in China.
“Working with a leading tech partner like Baidu enables us to leverage new opportunities in China to offer innovative solutions that improve safety, convenience and the overall mobility experience,” said Sherif Marakby, president and CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles.
“This project marks a new milestone in the partnership between Ford and Baidu, and supports Ford’s vision to design smart vehicles that transform how we get around.”
On-road testing under the Baidu-Ford L4 Autonomous Vehicle Test Project is scheduled to begin by the end of this year. The vehicles being evaluated are designed to meet SAE Level 4 automation.
In the lead-up to kickoff, a team of Ford engineers at the company’s Nanjing Research and Engineering Center (REC) was set up to convert the vehicles into autonomous vehicle platforms in order to prepare them for fitment with Baidu’s Apollo Virtual Driver System (VDS).
All vehicles have now been equipped with the technology and related hardware, and are ready for testing. The AV tests will be conducted on open roads in Beijing that are specially designated for AV testing, with the option of exploring further opportunities in other Chinese cities in the future in accordance with local regulations.
“Baidu and Ford both believe in using technology to redefine the future of mobility,” said Zhenyu Li, vice president and general manager of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group.
“This project will combine our leading-edge technological know-how and understanding of China together with Ford’s vehicle expertise, marking a significant step forward toward Baidu’s goal of developing autonomous driving vehicles that will greatly benefit future consumers.”