Chinese search giant Baidu has formed a team dedicated to its self-driving car efforts in Silicon Valley, taking its autonomous car ambitions to Google's home turf. The team, which Baidu announced in a press release, will grow to more than 100 researchers and engineers by the end of 2016. It's a major investment for the company, and shows how serious Baidu is about autonomous cars.
The team (which will be part of Baidu's Autonomous Driving Unit) will be called ADU-US, and will work on everything from planning, perception, control, and systems. The company is also looking to make hires from the automotive industry. Baidu plans to make incremental progress with its self-driving cars, starting with small "autonomy-enabled" regions and progressing from there. Its cars will be "clearly recognizable," much like Google's current self-driving fleet.
"Baidu's Silicon Valley car team will play a significant role in building the car of the future," said Jing Wang, general manager of Baidu's Autonomous Driving Unit. "Baidu is fully committed to making self-driving cars a reality."
A steady trickle of news about Baidu's self-driving car efforts have been coming for the past two years or so, including reports of partnerships with BMW and Samsung. Previous reports have claimed Baidu is looking to develop a "commercially viable" car by 2018.