The Self-Driving Car Race Is On: Will It Be Google or Baidu?
Google’s ambitious plan to take drivers out of cars has been moving forward for years, with 2020 put forward as the date when the driverless cars will finally become available to the public. While Google is moving ahead with its plans, the legislation is lagging behind with only 4 American states and Washington D.C. having allowed self-driving cars onto their streets.
However, Google is not the only one on the ambitious road to self-driving vehicles.
Baidu, Google’s twin Chinese brother and the number one search engine in the Middle Kingdom, has also announced having joined the exciting race.
The Chinese company has been working on the self-driving car project for a few years, and not without success. At the China Cloud Computing Services Summit, Baidu’s Senior Vice President Wang Jin made a statement, in which he promised a self-driving car, in partnership with the German car manufacturer BMW to be launched before the end of the year.
According to the Senior Voice President Wang Jin, Baidu is taking a slightly different approach to the concept of a self-driving vehicle and aims to provide drivers with the most assistance instead of replacing them completely. Thus, the company’s prototype vehicle that will be used to test Baidu’s technology will still have a human driver present.
So, will it be Google’s or Baidu’s vehicle that will make it through the finish line first?
Both companies seem to have a firm grip on the technology needed to set the process in motion. Google’s robotic cars are said to sport over $150,000 worth of equipment on them, and Baidu is not lagging behind, having acquired IndoorAtlas, a Finnish mapping company, to add to its existing mapping service.
However, geography will play a part in the race. While Google is moving ahead with its plans, the legislation is lagging behind with only 4 American states and Washington D.C. having allowed self-driving cars onto their streets. With the US and Europe still figuring out the best way to allow self-driving cars on the roads, China may be willing to simplify the approval process and give Baidu an early “go ahead”, letting the company launch the production of its self-driving cars.
So, there you have it. It’s time to place your bet. Will it be the US to first boast autonomous vehicles on its roads or will China take the lead saving drivers from, well, driving? The world is eager and the world is waiting.
What’s your take on the race? Share your opinion with us in the comments below.