German luxury carmaker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (ETR:BMW) (FRA:BMW) said in a statement Monday that it has teamed up with Chinese Internet giant Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) to test its semi-autonomous driving cars on Chinese roads. The highly automated driving trials will be conducted in Shanghai and Beijing.
How will Baidu help BMW?
BMW’s semi-automated driving cars have already undergone thousands of miles of testing in Germany. Now BMW is expanding the project to other large cities in China. The Munich-based automaker said that its expanded research project would pave the way for highly automated driving on Chinese roads. Densely populated cities of China pose serious challenges such as multi-level highways to engineers.
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Research vehicles developed under this project will initially be tested on urban highways. BMW turned to Baidu because semi-autonomous driving cars need high-resolution maps. These maps help the vehicle measure precisely when they are in danger of missing a turn or hitting a curb. Currently, cars don’t have sufficient memory to store detailed maps of an entire nation. Therefore, automakers turn to Internet and telecom providers to help vehicles download detailed maps on the go.
Baidu was developing its own autonomous car
Notably, BMW and Baidu are also jointly developing driverless car technologies. The deal between the two companies will allow BMW to solve traffic challenges in Chinese markets. Baidu and BMW are laying the groundwork for technologies that will eventually lead to fully autonomous cars. The deal with BMW indicates that Baidu would integrate more of its own data services into BMW’s vehicles.
Before signing the research agreement with German automaker, Baidu announced in July that it was working to develop its own autonomous driving car. The largest Chinese search engine company also offers cloud and map services. The company wants to use data analytics to create advanced hardware.
Baidu shares rose 0.69% to $222 in pre-market trading Tuesday.