• Baidu Self-Driving Car

Baidu Self-Driving Car (Photo : Twitter)

Baidu plans to roll out its all-electric self-driving cars throughout China to build maps by collecting data such as the location of curbs and height of traffic lights. The search giant is using modified Chery EQ cars after road-testing a BMW 3-series with autonomous tech last December to change lanes and make U-turns. Its long-term goal is to build a self-driving fleet for a public transportation service within a few years.

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Baidu is often called the Google of China. The tech company hopes to use the autonomous vehicles (AV) for a public shuttle service by 2018. 

The Chery EQ launched in 2014 and has a range of about 120 miles (193 km). It has a price tag of about $9,600.   

Baidu's modified vehicles have many of the same high-tech features as Google's self-driving cars. The big device on top of the car is probably a Lidar scanner that sends out a laser to measure distance, and the electric vehicle (EV) seems to be souped up with other sensors and cameras. 

Last year Baidu used a modified BMW to drive autonomously for 18.6 miles (30 km). That vehicle was able to perform various tasks including merging on and off a highway.

The company is also testing its robotic cars in the United States. Employees at its Silicon Valley office in Sunnyvale, California are working on the project, according to Business Insider.

Baidu's new all-electric driverless car should be very prodigious even though many tech and car companies are developing AVs. However, it is unclear when the smart cars will be available on the retail market. 

In related news, Google has just hired Airbnb executive Shaun Stewart as a director for the tech giant's AV group, according to Engadget. His job will be to turn the division into a money-maker.

It is unclear what Stewart's exact duties will be. However, he will reportedly turn Google's self-driving tech into a robot taxi service.

Stewart is an expert in short-term travel rentals. He has also worked at vacation deal website Jetsetter, so he has a lot of experience that could help to launch a new self-driving cab service.

Here's a video on Baidu's AV road tests: