Baidu has announced its intention to begin offering autonomous cars or shuttles running in a loop by 2018, but in order to make that a reality the company plans to test its self-driving cars in the United States.
Baidu has a Silicon Valley presence
This is not a matter of Baidu bringing its shoddy cars from mainland China in order to endanger American drivers, rather it’s a matter of beginning testing for automobiles it has been working on for quite some time. The move to the road was announced this week by Baidu’s chief scientist Andrew Ng speaking from the company’s office in Sunnyvale, Calif., where a number of the 160 employees on campus have been working on Baidu’s self-driving cars.
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Ng is an AI-scientist who has a lab at Stanford where he also works as an assistant professor, and it was at Stanford where Ng introduced his open-source “robot operating system,” or ROS that is a worldwide standard.
For those who believe in continuing education, you might recognize Mr. Ng’s name for his work as a co-founder of Coursera.
In order to begin proper testing of their cars, Mr. Ng is calling for more cooperation with the United States’ government to get the wheels properly rolling.
Baidu (Ng) and others testify before congress
On Tuesday, Mr. Ng’s testimony was brought before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee which is looking at autonomous vehicles and the regulatory hurdles in place to keep them off the road. While Mr. Ng was not in attendance, his testimony was included in the minutes of the meeting.
Mr. Ng believes that through the use of mobile apps, police and construction workers could communicate with driverless cars or divert them out of problem areas in order to enhance their ability to adapt to changing road conditions and situations.
“The (artificial intelligence) is good enough where the changes to infrastructure are modest,” Mr. Ng said. “Maybe in the distant future, we could make it drive like a human driver, but not in two years.”
Baidu is presently using modified BMW 3-series sedans for its self-driving cars but has commitments with a number of Chinese automakers that will help the company with a closed loop plan for 2018 where fully autonomous vehicles could begin working as shuttles in as little as two years’ time.