Ford, Volvo and Baidu develop autonomous cars by 2020-21
Both the Blue Oval and its former subsidiary Volvo have announced they will be working together with search engine operator Baidu in China to develop autonomous vehicles.
In the case of Ford, the press release mentions a two-year project to develop self-driving vehicles on Chinese roads, starting still this year, on designated roads in Beijing and possibly other Chinese cities. The vehicles will be capable of operating autonomously in certain conditions by the time the project finishes development and testing, Ford and Baidu stated.
That means the jointly developed vehicles will reach level 4 autonomy by 2020.
Volvo cuts Baidu some more slack. The Swedish car maker wants to market electric robo-taxis for the Chinese market “somewhere after 2020”, according to CEO Hakan Samuelsson.
He said in June that autonomous cars should generate a third of Volvo’s global sales by 2025. Last year, Volvo signed an agreement with Uber for the sale of up to 24,000 XC90s that ought to become part of the American ride-hailing firm's robo-taxi fleet.
In China, Volvo’s vehicles will be adapted to work with the Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving software platform. Last year Apollo was made available to third parties to speed up the system’s development and better compete against Waymo. BMW was one of the first OEMs to sigh a memorandum of understanding to gain access to the platform.
A month ago, Volvo announced it would be joining forces with Nvidia for the development of a highly-advanced AI capable core computer for the next generation of Volvo cars. The technology will allow Volvo Cars to implement an advanced computing platform for its new cars on the forthcoming Scalable Product Architecture 2 (SPA 2) vehicle platform.
The first car with the new core computer will appear early next decade. It is highly probable that this is the car that will feature level 4 autonomy - thanks to the partnerships with Uber and Baidu.