Baidu is putting some serious cash behind its self-driving auto push after it announced a $1.5 billion fund that's focused on backing autonomous driving tech companies.
The fund's launch coincides with the release of Apollo 1.5, the second generation of the company's open-source autonomous vehicle software.
Since launching Apollo, Baidu has recruited more than 70 partners to the project, including tech firms such as Nvidia Corp. and navigation giant TomTom NV.
Apollo is Baidu's autonomous driving platform, with Chinese and global 70 partners so far, including latest members Hyundai Motor, ROS, esd electronics, Neousys Technology and autonomous driving startups Momenta and iDriver+ Technologies.
Chinese search engine Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) announced a 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) autonomous driving fund on Thursday as part of a wider plan to speed up its technical development and compete with USA rivals.
The Apollo platform was released under an open-source license earlier this year to foster adoption.
The new Apollo 1.5 software opens five more core capabilities that include planning, cloud simulation, obstacle perception, end to end deep learning and high-definition maps.
Baidu has announced a huge investment into autonomous driving, launching a $1.5bn investment fund which will enable the firm to compete with big U.S. rivals in the market.
Following other big tech companies such as Tesla and Google announcing their commitment and development to autonomous vehicle technology, Baidu hopes that the investment fund will help establish Baidu in the fast developing market.
"Apollo doesn't equate to Baidu", company Vice President Wu Xuebin told Caixin, adding that Baidu was hoping to profit from the project by offering support through means like cloud-based services. Beijing police said they are looking at an incident which occurred in July, to determine whether the company broke city traffic rules by testing a driverless vehicle on public roads as part of a demonstration for a press event.
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