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Baidu brings China to the autonomous vehicles race

While all major automakers in the US have invested in autonomous vehicle technology, with Tesla (TSLA) and Waymo as frontrunners, in China, Baidu Inc. is doing its part and making good progress in this field.

Baidu is planning to roll out its self-driving buses featuring its Apollo 3.0 autonomous driving platform to several cities in China including Beijing and Shenzhen. The Chinese technology company is also partnering with Japanese investment firm SoftBank to deploy these buses in Japan in 2019.

Baidu is also collaborating with Intel’s Mobileye to incorporate Mobileye’s technology into its Apollo self-driving vehicle solution. Mobileye controls a major portion of the advanced driver-assistance systems market at present, with a large number of cars expected to be fitted with its technology by next year too.

In addition to this, Baidu has developed an artificial intelligence chip called Kunlun that can be used in several areas from data processing to autonomous vehicles. These efforts will help Baidu gain a competitive edge over rivals Tencent and Alibaba in this increasingly popular space. As per a report by McKinsey, autonomous vehicles and mobility services are expected to be worth over $500 billion in China by 2030, by which time around 8 million self-driving cars are expected to hit public roads.

Waymo is far ahead of its rivals having achieved 7 million miles in self-driving testing last month

In the US, Waymo is far ahead of its rivals having achieved 7 million miles in self-driving testing last month. According to Seeking Alpha, Waymo could create more than $450 billion of value for Alphabet (GOOGL) in 2030 from the US autonomous vehicle market.

Uber achieved around 3 million miles before it had to halt its testing due to a fatal accident. The ride-sharing company has plans to resume its testing this year and also expressed a desire to partner with Waymo to add Waymo’s self-driving cars to Uber’s ride-hailing network. Uber also wants to roll out its self-driving cabs for passenger service by the middle of next year. Uber still has issues to solve which might affect its autonomous plans. The company just regained its license in London and is now facing fines in Singapore for its Grab deal.

Tesla has faced its own share of problems with its autopilot features and accidents. The company has promised full self-driving features by August. With investigations over its car crashes and many ambitious plans for its autonomous vehicles, there is a lot going on at Tesla.

Then there is General Motors (GM) and Cruise. According to Bloomberg, GM invested $1.1 billion in its Cruise Automation Unit which was strengthened by a $2.25 billion investment by SoftBank over a month ago. GM, however, is far behind Waymo in terms of speed.

There is a lot of investment being made in the autonomous vehicle segment both in the US and in China and both countries are going neck-to-neck to gain top position in this space.

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