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The Chinese web service company, Baidu, is looking to step its foot on the self-driving cars industry with its $1.5 billion funds announced this week. The Chinese search engine company is looking to directly combat U.S. rivals with a number of funds they are willing to spend on the production and development of their proprietary AI technology.

Baidu have announced that the whole plan is going to be called “Apollo Fund” and is expected to roll out sooner than we think. This has been a long time coming since the company opened its gates to the third party companies last April in co-engineering an autonomous driving technology after going through strenuous years of doing it solo.

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The Apollo Self-Driving Plan

The Chinese tech company has rolled out on its statement that they are sticking with the Apollo Fund which will be involving the hopes of producing and developing 100 autonomous driving vehicles over the next year. Looking at the reports, Baidu has teamed up with a total of 70 partners for its current Apollo program.

Initial developments have eventually led the company to collaborate with other companies to effectively take the king of self-driving cars, Tesla. Another threat that Baidu is looking to stumble upon is the recent Intel and Waymo partnership that is aimed to produce a fully autonomous self-driving car as well.

Baidu also announced its allegiance with 70 companies which includes big names such as; Hyundai Motor, ROS, ESD Electronics, Neousys Technology, and the autonomous startups such as Momenta and iDriver+ Technologies.

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Apollo 1.5 Self-Driving Platform

Baidu’s fund launch is also accompanied by the company’s second generation of open-source autonomous vehicle software which is dubbed as the Apollo 1.5. Their new platform involves innovation from its core capabilities which include; obstacle perception, planning, cloud simulation, high-definition maps, and End-to-End deep learning.

According to the company’s press release, the Apollo is the “Android of the auto industry”. They also noted that “Apollo has seen dozens of code updates each week and the addition of more than 65,000 lines of new code. At the same time, Apollo has received a positive response from global developers. To date, more than 1,300 companies have downloaded Apollo source code and nearly 100 companies have applied to open data via the Apollo website.”

The company’s announcement of the funding is a straight answer to the shifting process for the company in order to generate a new facet of cash flow. This is Baidu’s new corporate strategy to create more opportunities excluding their core business which is the search engine.  

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