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November 19, 2016

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BMW, Baidu end deal on driverless cars

GERMAN automaker BMW and Chinese Internet giant Baidu will end their joint research on self-driving cars, executives for the two firms said yesterday, with Baidu now searching for new global research partners.

Wang Jing, the head of autonomous car development at Baidu, siad the company is now using cars from Ford’s Lincoln in its US testing, declining to elaborate.

“I’m open for any partners, actually I’m talking to many,” Wang said, speaking on the sidelines of the 3rd World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province.

Tech and automotive leaders contend that cars of the future will be capable of completely driving themselves, revolutionizing the transportation industry, with virtually all carmakers as well as companies such as Google and parts supplier Delphi investing heavily in developing the technology.

The two companies decided to end the cooperation, which involved testing in the United States and China, because they held different opinions on how to proceed with research, BMW’s China CEO Olaf Kastner said at the Guangzhou auto show.

“We now have found that the development pace and the ideas of the two companies are a little different,” Kastner said, without specifying the exact point of disagreement.

At the conference in Wuzhen, Baidu offered test drives of various autonomous driving prototypes developed separately with Chinese automakers Chery Co and BAIC Motor.

The test cars drove a closed road, automatically avoiding a bicycle and overtaking cars moving at various speeds.

BMW’s Kastner said the two made decisions to part ways after jointly developing the automatic overtaking capability, seeing it as a key milestone for the technology.

The German automaker plans to expand its research and development team for autonomous drive in China, Kastner said. The companies will remain partners on high-definition maps — vital to the navigation of autonomous cars.



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