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Baidu, China’s largest search engine, has announced that a modified BMW 3 Series successfully completed an autonomous test route in Bejing. The company has claimed that this is the first fully autonomous car in China to successfully pass a series of tests in a variety of driving environments.
The 30-kilometer test route started and ended at Baidu’s Bejing headquarters, and required a variety of maneuvers by the car, including merging onto the highway, decelerating for slower traffic, changing lanes and U-Turns. The maximum speed attained was 100 km/h (62 mph).
Baidu’s Institute of Deep Learning started this self-driving car project back in 2013, taking advantage of Baidu’s highly automated driving (HAD) maps. With HAD maps, The company intends to map out many of China’s roadways through repetition: it uses a bus as an example, noting that a bus equipped with mapping hardware would develop a very thorough map for its specific route. It already offers an extensive mapping service, Baidu Maps, which puts it at an advantage in autonomous car development. It is to be mentioned that Baidu announced in June its intentions to put an autonomous car on the road by the end of 2015, partnering with German automaker BMW. While the company did achieve its initial goal, a 30-kilometer test route is a long way from a mass introduction of autonomous vehicles in China.