Chinese search giant Baidu has received approval to start testing its cars without a driver in Beijing, Reuters reports. It is a sign of China's strong support for the industry following the first death of pedestrians from an autonomous Uber vehicle in the US. UU
Baidu, which is known as the Chinese version of Google, received a permit to test its vehicles on 33 roads covering about 65 miles (105 kilometers) in the less populated suburbs of the city, the company said in a statement. Baidu is considered the national leader in autonomous driving, and launched a new platform last year to help automakers produce autonomous vehicles more quickly.
Earlier this month, China issued licenses for SAIC Motor Corp, based in Shanghai, and NIO, for the commissioning of electric vehicles, to begin testing vehicles that circulate on their own. Didi Chuxing, the great giant of China, is also developing its own autonomous vehicles.
That said, China is still trying to catch up with the United States in terms of public tests on the road, and Baidu is considered to be in the best position to help the country regain lost ground. Last year, Baidu said it would first open the Apollo Project for cars operating in restricted environments, before offering it to vehicles that drive in simple urban conditions. The company predicts that it will have cars operating completely autonomously on roads and regular roads by 2020.
Baidu CEO Robin Li sparked controversy last year when he tested one of his company's driverless cars for a technology conference in defiance of China's rules banning those tests. According to reports, Li was the subject of an investigation after the test, although no results have ever been reported.