Baidu conducts test runs with unmanned vehicles in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. (Photo provided to China Daily)
People say many hands make light work. Companies in the automobile industry are increasingly turning to that wisdom as they try to shed light on such new tech trends as autonomous driving.
Among others, Ford has acquired Argo AI, PSA is working with NuTonomy and Audi is partnering with Nvidia.
The number of partnerships is mushrooming. Late last month, German technology company Continental signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Baidu, one of the biggest dotcom companies in China, to work on autonomous driving and connected vehicles.
Under the agreement, the two will explore collaboration in fields such as sensor systems and software for advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving, said Continental in a news release on June 1.
Their cooperation will also include Baidu's Apollo project, covering artificial intelligence, cyber security and connected cars, as well as road testing, data collection and analysis for automated driving.
Baidu announced the Apollo project in April, which is a software platform that will allow its partners to build their own autonomous driving systems.
The online Chinese giant plans to introduce fully autonomous driving capacities on highways and urban roads by 2020.
"Continental develops and provides pioneering technologies and services for the mobility of tomorrow. Baidu is one of the most important internet companies in China. With our strategic collaboration, we will take intelligent mobility an important step further," said Continental Chairman of the Executive Board Elmar Degenhart.
Baidu CEO Lu Qi said artificial intelligence has great potential to drive social development and one of AI's biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles. "By joining hands with Continental, we are striving to upgrade intelligence in the automobile industry and develop a new ecosystem of intelligent mobility and automated driving, thus empowering existing industries and new ones."
Baidu has invested heavily in research and development into autonomous driving technology since 2015. In December 2015, it conducted successful road tests for its fully autonomous cars in Beijing.
The company is not Continental's first partner in the field. Earlier this year, Continental announced its decision to form a joint venture with Nexteer to promote motion control systems for automated driving.
The joint venture will combine Nexteer's advanced steering and driver assistance technologies with Continental's portfolio of automated driving and advanced braking technologies.
Also in May, British car supplier Delphi Automotive announced that it would join BMW, Intel and Mobileye as a development partner and system integrator for their autonomous driving platform.
The four partners intend to deploy a cooperation model to deliver and scale the developed solutions to the automotive industry and potentially other industries. "This is a great opportunity for Delphi to use its technical depth and experience in automated driving and electrical architecture to help the cooperation partners develop and deploy at scale," Kevin Clark, Delphi's president and CEO, said in a statement.
"Our close working relationship with all three partners serves as a solid foundation for success."
Delphi has already provided a prototype computer platform to BMW and is working together with Intel and Mobileye in the areas of perception, sensor fusion and high performance automated driving computing.
BMW, Intel and Mobileye announced in 2016 that they are joining forces to put highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021.
The three companies have developed an architecture that could be used by other automakers and mobility companies.