Driverless cars are expected to hit the roads of the ancient city of Wuzhen soon thanks to Baidu’s partnerships with local travel agencies. Wuzhen is a well-known, ancient water town located at the south of Yangtze River. Today, it is known as China’s hub for the IT industry, hosting the country’s World Internet Conference.
For those who may not know, Baidu is at heart the Google of China, known as a search engine giant and online marketing platform. It provides services in the likes of Dropbox, Netflix, Spotify and Google Maps, Quartz noted.
Now, its autonomous driving division, headed by Wang Jing, is closely working with Wuzhen Tourism Co. in search of the best routes for driverless vehicles.
Baidu previously announced its plan for bringing driverless vehicles to the city of Wuhu which will include buses, cars and vans.
“They want to be the first city in the world to embrace autonomous driving. This is the first city that is brave enough, daring enough and innovative enough to test autonomous driving,” Jing said in an earlier interview with the BBC.
It is unknown when the service debuts in Wuzhen, but according to Shanghaiist, Baidu aims to commercialize its driverless business by 2018. Vehicles will be mass-produced by 2020.
Baidu’s foray in the autonomous vehicle industry kicked off in late 2015 when Jing announced the company’s setting of the new division to oversee the venture. At the time, Jing told the Wall Street Journal, “We will cooperate with some governments to provide shared vehicles like a shuttle service; it could be a car or van, but for public use.”
If all goes according to plan, Baidu will set its name in the competitive landscape of driverless tech. Aside from Google, other key players in the driverless car industry include Tesla, Uber, General Motors and Ford, Bloomberg noted.