Baidu to pump United States dollars 1.5 bln into autonomous driving projects

A fleet of vehicles equipped with Baidu’s autonomous driving technologies conduct road testing in Wuzhen Zhejiang Province China in an undated

Baidu is putting some serious cash behind its self-driving auto push after it announced a $1.5 billion fund that's focused on backing autonomous driving tech companies. The funds will be distributed by Baidu's Apollo Fund.

According to a statement from the firm, newly joined members include Hyundai Motor, ROS, ESD electronics, Neousys Technology, and autonomous driving start-ups such as Momenta and iDriver+ Technologies.

Apollo self-driving platform was formed by the company back in April this year. Baidu rolled out the first version of the platform earlier this year, which includes hardware and software tools for developers, as well as supporting cloud services.

Baidu also shipped a major update to Apollo this week, which added five core capabilities to its platform: obstacle perception, planning, cloud simulation, high-definition (HD) maps and end-to-end deep learning.

Following other big tech companies such as Tesla and Google announcing their commitment and development to autonomous vehicle technology, Baidu hopes that the investment fund will help establish Baidu in the fast developing market.

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"China is very much about one solution in general".

Since its launch, more than 1,300 companies have downloaded Apollo's code and almost 100 companies have applied for open data via the Apollo website, according to the company's statement issued on Wednesday. Moreover, almost 100 companies have applied for open data via the Apollo website.

More than 50 cooperation agreements with Apollo partners on mass production or joint product development plans have also been inked, it said.

The driverless vehicle race is paramount for Baidu, as it seeks to transition into an AI-first company after its core search business was hammered by the Chinese government's tighter controls over online medical advertisements.

During July, Beijing police said they were carrying out an investigation into whether Baidu broke traffic rules in the city by conducting a test of a driverless vehicle using public roads as part of a media event.

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