BMW, Baidu joint project on self-driving cars breaks down

Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:47am EST
 
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By Jake Spring and Catherine Cadell

GUANGZHOU/WUZHEN, China (Reuters) - German automaker BMW and Chinese internet giant Baidu will end their joint research on self-driving cars, executives for the two firms said on Friday, with Baidu now searching for new global research partners.

Wang Jing, the head of autonomous car development at Baidu, told Reuters the company was now using cars from Ford's Lincoln in its U.S. testing, declining to elaborate.

"I'm open for any partners, actually I'm talking to many,” Wang said, speaking on the sidelines of China's third World Internet Conference in the eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen.

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 Alphabet's 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 told Reuters at the Guangzhou auto show, which began on Friday.

"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 [CHERY.UL], BYD Co Ltd and BAIC Motor.

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

 
The logo of BMW is pictured at at the 37th Bangkok International Motor Show in Bangkok, Thailand, March 22, 2016. Picture taken March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom