Baidu opens self-driving car R&D center in Silicon Valley

Photo of author

By Larry Banks

The most popular search engine in China is Baidu. And just like Google, it’s also investing heavily in self-driving vehicle technologies. This weekend it officially announced the launch of a new autonomous vehicle research and development centre in Silicon Valley.

The firm says it will grow its team to more than 100 researchers and engineers by the end of the year, and has already moved several staff from its new Autonomous Driving Unit (ADU) to Sunnyvale and hired a Tesla Autopilot software engineer.

Liang Heng, a PhD graduate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford, joined Tesla last year after CEO Elon Musk requested hardcore software engineers join the firm’s efforts to make its Autopilot system fully autonomous. He has left Tesla after just 5 months to join Baidu’s team as a software architect.

Before joining Tesla, Heng worked at Google on Street View. The person in charge of Baidu’s ADU, Jing Wang, also just happens to be a former Google employee.

Wang said of the new R&D centre:

“Baidu is fully committed to making self-driving cars a reality. Autonomous vehicles will save lives and make transportation more efficient. Baidu’s Silicon Valley car team will play a significant role in building the car of the future”.

Baidu also says the team will include machine learning researches, plus hardware and software engineers from robotics and computer vision domains, to onboard computers and sensors. The firm is also looking for engineers with experience in the automotive industry.

The Sunnyvale offices already host lots of AI and machine learning experts led by Andrew Ng, who was the founder and lead scientist in Google’s Deep Learning project. He is currently the chief scientist for Baidu in Silicon Valley.


Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos