Manufacturing News

JAC taps Baidu to develop self-driving vehicles

Jianghuai Automobile Co., a state-owned automaker, formed a partnership with Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc. to develop autonomous vehicles.

JAC says the deal allows it to use Baidu's high-precision maps and its open-source software for autonomous vehicles, dubbed Apollo.

The automaker plans to launch a production version of a self-driving vehicle in the second half of 2019.

As part of the partnership program, JAC supplied 32 units of its S3 subcompact crossover to Baidu beginning last week to help the latter collect mapping data.

JAC, based in the east China city of Hefei, produces commercial trucks and light vehicles. In the first seven months, the company’s sales dropped 18 percent year on year to 306,286 as JAC’s aging lineup of passenger vehicles lost market share.

Earlier this year, it established a joint venture with the Volkswagen Group to build electric vehicles.

It is the latest automaker in China to adopt Baidu’s Apollo platform to develop autonomous vehicles.

Apollo, launched in April, is a software package that enables self-driving vehicles to locate and track themselves, plan routes and control steering, brakes and acceleration.

Users include China FAW Group Corp., Changan Automobile Co., Great Wall Motor Co. and Chery Automobile Co. as well as global automakers such as Ford Motor Co., Daimler AG and Volkswagen group.

Baidu is working with Robert Bosch, Continental AG, Nvidia Corp. and Microsoft to upgrade Apollo.

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