The “Google of China” is reportedly bringing its driverless cars stateside.
In a push to release a self-driving vehicle in less than three years, Baidu (BIDU) will begin testing its autonomous cars in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports. The Beijing-based search engine company, founded about 16 years ago, is looking toward its Silicon Valley office to work towards that goal. The expanding Sunnyvale, California office is currently 160 employees strong and is led by artificial intelligence scientist Andrew Ng.
Baidu already has commitments with Chinese car manufacturers to release its first driverless car, which Ng says may not even have a steering wheel, and it plans to have a self-driving shuttle on Chinese public roads by the end of 2018. The shuttle will have a standard, limited route that will continue to grow as progress is made.
Baidu—alongside other companies like Google (GOOGL) and General Motors (GM)—is also actively encouraging a push for better coordination between autonomous vehicle manufacturers and the U.S. government, saying that it’s necessary to make small changes to existing infrastructure and ease regulatory obstacles in order to get self-driving cars on the road. The company has suggested a mobile application that would allow construction workers and law enforcement to engage with the vehicles, informing them how to navigate road closures or when someone is directing traffic.