Chinese search giant Baidu today announced that more than 50 companies, including big names in the auto and tech industries, have joined its Apollo self-driving car platform. Those companies include Ford, Daimler, Nvidia, Intel, Microsoft, and popular LIDAR-supplier Velodyne. The partnerships alone aren’t a huge milestone. Rather, it’s how Baidu plans to work with these companies to turn Apollo into a global initiative that can compete with the biggest names in Silicon Valley.
“Apollo is an important milestone for the automotive industry,” Qi Lu, Baidu’s chief operating officer, said yesterday at Baidu Create, the company’s inaugural artificial intelligence conference. “It is in essence the ‘Android’ of the autonomous driving industry, but more open and more powerful. Apollo is not solely Baidu’s. It belongs to everyone in the ecosystem. And as we and our partners contribute to the platform in our areas of specialty, we all gain more, with the results far greater than just our own.”