Baidu, SoftBank partner on self-driving buses in Japan
Baidu partners with SoftBank to enter Japan’s self-driving bus market with plans to start vehicle testing by the end of the year, according to Nikkei Asian Review.
China’s Xiamen King Long United Automotive will build the bus. The companies hope to ship ten buses by 2019 and to begin commercialization at a later date.
SoftBank is participating through its SB Drive business, which has already started testing self-driving busses at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
Baidu’s Apollo project develops an autonomous vehicle platform with partners including Ford, Honda, and about 100 other global companies.
Chinese internet search leader Baidu is tying up with SB Drive, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group, to enter Japan's autonomous vehicle market.
Both have been investing in autonomous driving and aim to marry their systems in a bus model that would go into testing by year-end. China's Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry will build the bus, currently called Apolong. The companies aim to ship 10 buses to Japan by 2019 and to begin commercialization later.
The Chinese government has established artificial intelligence as a key priority under its Made in China 2025 industrial program. Baidu is seen as one of the country's leading players in AI, the core technology for autonomous driving.
Baidu and SB Drive will start test drives in a closed area initially, but hope to begin tests on public roads soon after. In China, Baidu is testing self-driving vehicles in the Xiongan New Area, a new city being developed at the direction of President Xi Jinping to relieve population pressures in Beijing.