Baidu, China’s answer to Google, has announced plans for a driverless bus route to launch next year.
Baidu CEO Robin Li outlined the search giant’s plans for driverless automobiles at the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live tech conference.
In addition to the self-driving bus, Baidu will unveil semi-autonomous cars in 2019, with fully-autonomous vehicles to follow by 2021.
Though Baidu is responsible for the software, they are partnering with Chinese auto manufacturers to produce the vehicles themselves. The cars will be made by BAIC Motor, but they have yet to announce the manufacturer of the driverless bus.
The bus will follow a single route, acting as a sort of proof of concept.
Baidu is relying on the Apollo system, its open-source autonomous driving software. Partners in the program include Ford, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Daimler. Baidu and Robin Li tout Apollo as a more open, inclusive, and adaptable software than privately-developed alternatives.
Baidu has been developing self-driving auto technology since 2015. The company devotes about 15% of its revenue annually on related research and development spending, or about 1.5 billion dollars.