China’s Baidu Developing Its Own “Highly Autonomous” Car

Driverless, autonomous car technology is quickly proliferating as multiple companies have stated publicly that they’re planning to roll them out within the next several years. Other companies such as Intel are working hard on technology to go in autonomous cars, too. But it’s not just American and European companies diving in--China’s Baidu says that it’s developing its own (mostly) self-driving vehicle, too.

Baidu, you may note, is not a car company; it’s a tech company, similar in many respects to Google, and it’s unclear who Baidu would partner with on the actual vehicle. In any case, the company has an intriguing philosophy on what an autonomous car should be.

Google's self-driving car
Google's self-driving car

Kai Yu, the company’s deputy director of its Institute of Deep Learning, told The Next Web that the driver should be able to take control of the vehicle even though the car has its own intelligence. He compared it to riding a horse, which is actually a brilliant way of thinking about it; a horse can certainly move on its own and use its own intelligence to avoid dangerous situations and navigate through “traffic”, but the rider’s input is also important.

“This is actually an intelligent assistant collecting data from road situations and then operating locally,” Yu told the outlet. “We don’t call this a driverless car. I think a car should be helping people, not replacing people, so we call this a highly autonomous car.”

Yu said that Baidu expects to have a prototype ready as early as next year.