On Thursday Volvo and Baidu announced about agreement to jointly build driverless cars. They said that their plan is for mass production of Level 4 autonomous vehicle for demands of robotaxi in the Chinese market. But timeline for the plan has not yet been decided. No financial details were released by any company.
This Volvo-Baidu deal will create cars from the base level, most probably with some newer than current car shapes; and it will not be something like Volvo just giving some cars to Baidu. Volvo, owned by China’s Geely, is the Sweden based auto giant having proficiency in automobile industry with adaptation of highest safety measures. To the other side is the Baidu, China’s biggest search engine, will come forward with Appollo, its autonomous driving platform.
Volvo is striving hard to become leading player in the sector of robotaxi. Previously Volvo signed a sale agreement of providing about 24,000 of its XC90s cars to Uber to become part of its first robotaxi fleet. In June this year Volvo shared its plan that by 2025, one third of its global sales will be driverless cars mostly to be sold as robotaxis.
On the other hand, Baidu is longing for better competing Tesla and Waymo by speeding up the Appllo’s system development. Its autonomous driving software platform Appollo will be used in Volvo’s all driverless products. This will lead the Baidu’s platform to be more compatable with the softwares of all players currently present in the field.
In this quest Baidu in July gave access of its Appollo plat to BMW by after signing a Memorandum of understanding. Baidu on Wednesday also signed a two year partnership with Ford to develop and test driverless vehicles in China, most likely to begin by the end of this year. China’s FAW Group for launching its fully autonomous passenger cars next year, is also teaming up with Baidu for its Appollo platform.
Analysts are estimating that between 2017 and 2022, auto companies are most likely to spend $20 billion to $30 billion upon robotaxis which are going to start use of autonomous driving technology.