Baidu Inc., the owner of China’s largest search engine, announced the company may release an autonomous vehicle this year, according to an article from Bloomberg.
Chief Executive Officer Robin Li made the announcement in Beijing, where he was attending meetings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, according to the article. He indicated the company has been researching driverless vehicle technology and has been working with automobile manufacturers, though he declined to name the automaker partners.
Baidu joins the likes of Google and Apple, other technology giants reportedly working to develop autonomous vehicles.
China’s Information Technology and Industry Minister Miao Wei said he encourages companies outside the traditional auto industry to partner with manufacturers to spark innovation and competition, according to the article. Chinese company Leshi Internet Information & Technology Co. is one of many that has indicated it would invest billions of dollars into developing a connected electric car. Leshi produces Web-enabled TVs.
During the meeting, Li also said Baidu plans to introduce lending applications soon, according to the article, but didn’t provide any specifics.