While Google says its goal is to have its self-driving car on the road by 202, Chinese search giant company Baidu may have beaten the US company already. Baidu (often called the Chinese Google) announced that its own self-driving car has just completed its first route through the city of Beijing.
Baidu has developed its autonomous vehicle based on a modified BMW 3-Series, and just competed an 18.6 mile journey through the city that included highways and smaller side streets. The car apparently made turns, u-turns, changed lanes, passed other vehicles and other manoeuvres with any issues, according to Wired.
Google’s own self-driving cars have already driven more than 1.7 million miles, but it’s an important milestone for China and Baidu.
Baidu and BMW said they would launch a self-driving vehicle by the end of this year, but “launch” didn’t obviously mean widespread consumer availability. Baidu has been working on the project in its research lab since 2013.
The Chinese company says it aims to create a car that will “advance incrementally through different environments, rather than through different levels of driving autonomy”. The ultimate aim is also for self-driving buses that drive the same routes every day, instead of fully autonomous vehicles of the kind that Google is working on.
Meanwhile, Google’s own cars have been in 11 minor accidents in its 1.7 million miles of tests, but apparently none of those accidents were the fault of the car.
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.