Microsoft, Baidu Announce Self-Driving Car Partnership

Microsoft's move to strengthen its position in China continues with driverless technology and a partnership with Baidu, China's largest search engine.

Through the partnership, announced Tuesday, the duo will build autonomous vehicles based on Baidu's open-source platform Apollo and Microsoft Azure, which will support cloud services outside of China.

"Today's vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data," Microsoft VP Kevin Dallas said in a statement. "By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning, and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer."

The partnership aims to give assistance to the more than 50 members of the Project Apollo alliance, which includes more than 50 companies such as car manufacturers, tech companies, and research and educational facilities. 

Baidu plans to put vehicles on the road in China by 2019. In December 2015, the company modified a BMW 3 Series to test right and left turns, as well as the ability to detect vehicles ahead, change lanes, pass other cars and merge into traffic from ramps, according to the company. Then in April 2016, Baidu opened a self-driving car research and development center in Silicon Valley.

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Companies such as Baidu -- which makes the majority of its revenue from online advertising -- have begun to demonstrate their might and their ability to grow through other channels.

Last week, Yandex, the Russian online search giant, announced a partnership with Uber Technologies to form a joint venture. Yandex.Taxi -- which operated as a ride-hailing service -- and Uber would invest millions in a new company called NewCo that would support ride services in 127 cities in six countries.

 

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