Volvo teams up with Baidu to develop autonomous cars
Car maker Volvo has struck a deal with Chinese internet search provider Baidu to jointly develop electric and fully autonomous cars for the Chinese market.
Volvo, a subsidiary of Chinese automotive company Geely, and Baidu said they will “pool resources to take the next step and prepare” for mass manufacturing of fully electric and autonomous cars.
Baidu will contribute its Apollo autonomous driving platform. Volvo will provide expertise and advanced technologies from the car industry. Both will sell the vehicles to Chinese customers.
Volvo quoted research from IHS Markit in its press statement, which says China will become the single largest market for autonomous cars in the next decades, with around 14.5 million autonomous cars expected to be sold in China by 2040, out of a total global volume of 33 million.
Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, commented: “With Baidu we take a big step forward in commercialising our autonomous compatible cars. There is a strong development in autonomous drive in China. The market there offers huge opportunities for us as the supplier of choice for autonomous fleets.”
Volvo is looking to “capitalise on and lead” the disruption in the automotive industry. The company restated its aim to be a “diversified mobility service provider”, and its view that autonomous driving is an essential growth area for it. By the middle of the next decade it expects to generate one third of all annual sales from autonomous cars, it said.
Volvo started work with Uber on development of self-driving cars in 2016. The company has been busier, of late, with almost-monthly announcements about its developing strategy since the height of summer.
In May, Volvo Cars said it will share anonymised safety data with Volvo Trucks, between vehicles in Sweden and Norway. It also confirmed deeper integration of Google apps and services in its new infotainment system, and a deal with Amazon to allow in-car deliveries of Prime parcels.
In June, it announced it had taken a stake in US start-up Luminar, based in California and Florida, to develop sensor technology for autonomous vehicles.
In July, the company announced a new mobility brand, M, launching in Sweden and the US in the spring of 2019. The new enterprise will offer personalised mobility services, including on-demand access to hire cars, based on a proprietary machine learning platform.
In September, it said its future plans will even disrupt the multi-billion dollar domestic air travel industry. Its new ‘360c concept’ presents a fully autonomous, fully electric car that, although flightless itself, will bring a level of convenience, comfort and safety that undermines the short-haul air travel industry.
And just last month, in October, Volvo and chip maker NVIDIA said they have teamed up to bring artificial intelligence to self-driving cars. The pair will develop an AI-enabled core computer for new models from as early as 2020, bringing about advanced driver support systems, energy management technology, and in-car personalisation options.
Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu, commented: “Volvo has kept safety as its core mission, pushing safety development forward with significant innovations. We are very glad that Volvo Cars has established a strategic partnership with Baidu in the development of a fully autonomous car compatible with our autonomous driving platform Apollo. We look forward to working closely with Volvo to provide the world with the safest auto products for the benefit of humankind.” Said.