Baidu, the Chinese-language internet search provider, announced the successful test drive of its self-driving car—a modified BMW 3-Series.
According to the Chinese internet search provider, its self-driving car navigated through a complicated route in Beijing. The test drive was 18.6 miles including side streets and highways around the capital city of China.
The autonomous, modified BMW-3 Series started driving at the headquarters of Baidu and went through the g7 highways, Fifth Ring Road, the Olympic Park and returned to the starting point.
Baidu said the test drive was challenging
In a statement, Wang Jing, the senior vice president and general manager of the autonomous driving business unit at Baidu admitted that the test drive for the company’s self-driving car wasn’t easy.
According to him, “Fully autonomous driving under mixed road conditions is universally challenging, with complexity further heightened by Beijing’s road conditions and unpredictable driver behavior.”
Despite the challenge, Baidu’s self-driving car managed to finish the test drive without human control. It was able to turn left and right, reduce speed when approaching vehicles, change lanes, pass other cars, merge into traffic, accelerate to a top speed of 62 mph.
Baidu shows ability to compete in building self-driving cars
Since 2013, Baidu has been testing technology for self-driving cars. Last year, the company partnered with BMW to work on self-driving cars. In June, Baidu and BMW announced their intention to start testing self-driving cars on public roads this year.
Observers in the industry commented that the capabilities demonstrated by Baidu’s self-driving car are not new. Google and other major automakers working on autonomous car technology already achieved complicated maneuvers. Baidu is playing catch-up. However, they emphasized that Baidu’s achievement is a significant milestone for China, and showed its ability to compete in building self-driving cars. Analysts at Goldman Sachs previously suggested that that 2017 will be a “watershed year” for autonomous cars.
According to Baidu, it is testing two modified BMW-3 Series equipped with radars, sensors, and camera. The company said its self-driving car is integrated with an in-house mapping data and deep-learning technology.
The company said its approach in developing its self-driving cars is “to advance incrementally through different environments, rather than through different levels pf driving autonomy.” Baidu wants to develop autonomous vehicles that are limited geographically to reduce challenges. An example is a bus driving on the same route regularly.