The Wall Street Journal reports that Baidu plans to officially launch its self-driving cars in public within the next three years. The company is already experimenting with a pair of autonomous BMW prototypes and wants to add more vehicles soon. Each car is packed with sensors, cameras and laser radar technology.
The new vehicles would be used as public shuttles. Baidu says it doesn’t have any plans to sell the cars straight to consumers. “We will cooperate with some governments to provide shared vehicles like a shuttle service,” Baidu senior vice president Wang Jing told WSJ. “It could be a car or van, but for public use.”
Baidu still has plenty of work left if it wants to catch up with Google, which already has more than 50 self-driving cars roaming parts of California and Texas. But the Chinese company could also have a strong advantage at home.
“China’s traffic is more complicated,” Wang said. “The behavior of pedestrians, cyclists, are very different from in the U.S.” He added that traffic in many Chinese cities is “terrible,” giving the the government and citizens another good reason to embrace self-driving car technology.