China’s leading search engine, Baidu, has also launched its own autonomous car in Google’s footsteps. China, a country of billions of people, is known for its tendency of always coming up with its own rendition of the major services that the rest of the world enjoys. Indeed, this is what sets them apart, since they have their own social media networks and search engines, while the rest of the world is largely catered for by the likes of Google and Facebook. Maybe they can justify their seclusion by their large population.
In line with streamlining their services to world standards, their largest search engine is reportedly working on an autonomous car, and they will most probably build on what Google has already done with their driverless vehicle, though with slight variations. It is believed that this will be an extremely bright assistant which will greatly assist in data collection.
The car being developed by Baidu has a steering wheel and some pedals, unlike Google’s autonomous car that has none of those. While Google’s car is entirely self-driven, Baidu’s vehicle will be only be partially self-driving. This means that at times the individual in it will have to take the wheel, and at other times the vehicle will be left to do everything on its own.
Apparently, Baidu’s autonomous vehicle concerns are greater due to the high number of individuals likely to be on Chinese roads. Baidu states that this, coupled to the fact that most of these road users do not really behave in a civilised manner on the roads, means that the car has to be smarter. Therefore, Baidu’s major concern for now is safety of pedestrians and other road users.
Baidu has a lot of work to do in line with its position as China’s Google, after Google’s exit from the country in 2010. It is fairing on quite well, and its move towards developing an autonomous vehicle should be welcome by its Chinese users. Google’s car is centred on the Western World, and its behaviour is the result of analytics from Western demographics. From the look of things, Baidu has realized that it cannot fully replicate Google’s vehicle, and is relying on its own intelligence based on analysis from Chinese demographics.
The prototypes for Baidu’s vehicle will only be seen sometime in 2015, and we can only stay put and wait till then.