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Baidu, in case you haven’t heard, is an absolute giant in the internet business in China. They’re like the Google and Amazon of China.
And like Google, they’re also interested in self driving cars. As such, they’re now testing self driving cars on the streets of China, according to the Wall Street Journal. In that sense, they’re copying what the Western technology companies like Google and Apple have been doing.
According to Wang Jing, senior vice president at Baidu, Baidu are looking at self driving for consumer vehicles, but also vehicles that have fixed routes, like public transport vehicles. This may be an easier option to achieve than say a consumer car that has variable routes. Fixed routes might be easier to implement, because you can totally map the route to be taken, because you know the route before hand. Baidu would like a working version within 3 years within the context of fixed routes.
The Baidu self driving car will use LIDAR for detection of objects, and the environment around it. So it essentially ‘scans’ the surrounding area to determine where it is, and for objects in the area, much like a human uses its eyes.
What’s really interesting about this news item is that Wang thinks that the Chinese roads, and the way they are used, is very different than the way Western roads are used, meaning that self driving cars would also have to use the roads differently. If that’s true, it would mean that Google and Apple self driving cars may need special plugins or packs to deal with the roads and traffic of each country in the world. If you think about it, that makes sense too!