China’s Baidu Is Making Its Self-Driving Car Software Available to Anyone

The Chinese internet giant will release an open-source autonomous vehicle system.

July 7, 2017 5:00 am
Baidu self-driving car i
A Baidu self-driving car is on display during The Light of the Internet Expo as part of the 2nd World Internet Conference on December 14, 2015 in Jiaxing, China. The 2nd World Internet Conference - Wuzhen Summit would be held on Dec 16-18 in Wuzhen Town, Zhejiang Province. (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

One Chinese company is flipping the script by letting one of its biggest secrets out in the open.

Baidu has plans to share its self-driving car software with anyone, a huge boon to Chinese car manufacturers. It’s an unusual move in the highly competitive field of artificial intelligence, but mirrors China’s ambition to be a world leader in cognitive technologies.

The Internet company announced it would make the brains behind Apollo, its autonomous vehicle, an open-source project in the next few years. The announcement was made on Wednesday at Baidu’s first AI conference.

By sharing its proprietary software, instead of closely guarding it like other companies do, Baidu positions itself to potentially be a major player in the nascent self-driving car industry simply by dominating the Chinese auto market. It also means companies, like Google, don’t release their autonomous vehicle tech, they may not be able to compete, according to MIT Technology Review.

Baidu wants to start testing its Apollo software on limited-access roads later this month. By 2020, it hopes to have a fully-autonomous car driving on highways.

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