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Daimler and Baidu enhance strategic cooperation in automated driving and vehicle connectivity

Daimler and Baidu have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance their Sino-German cooperation in these strategic fields.

The two companies have agreed to deepen their partnership through joint automated driving and connectivity projects, including further strengthening their collaboration through Baidu’s Apollo open platform. Both companies will also work to explore new fields of in-vehicle connectivity services.

Daimler was one of the first partners to join Apollo, Baidu’s open autonomous driving platform launched in April 2017, which provides a comprehensive all-in-one solution that supports major features and functions of an automated vehicle. In December 2017, Daimler became a member of the Apollo Committee, which pursues the goal of accelerating research on safer solutions in automated driving in China and promoting the drafting of related laws and regulations.

Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “With the changes facing the industry today, we have worked consistently to implement our C.A.S.E. strategy for innovation both globally and at a local level in China. In particular, automated driving and connectivity are progressing at an unprecedented rate in China, and our continued success depends not only on staying ahead of these trends but on leading them. Daimler and Baidu already enjoy a strong partnership in these two fields, and the signing of this memorandum marks a new milestone in the cooperation between our two companies.”

Mr Robin Li, Chairman and CEO, Baidu: “In the era of artificial intelligence and big data, the automotive industry will evolve according to a drastically different logic – from vertical integration to a platform-based ecosystem – making now the optimal time for global automakers and tech companies to work together and deepen cooperation in building an intelligent ecosystem. It is my hope that this strengthened partnership between Baidu and Daimler will lead to more cross-industry collaboration and push forward the global automated driving industry.”

Mr Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Greater China: “Realising local automated driving and connectivity services requires understanding the many characteristics that make the Chinese market unique. The close work between Daimler and Baidu has created a new depth of Sino-German collaboration in regard to intelligent connected vehicles. With the Apollo platform supporting our road tests in Beijing, our cooperation on automated driving allows us to create solutions that address China’s specific conditions. Side by side with strong local partners, we will continue to strive for products and services that aim to best fit the needs of our customers in China.”

Dr Ya-Qin Zhang, President, Baidu: “The combination of automobiles with technologies such as automated driving and Internet of Vehicles (IoV) is revolutionising the century-old auto industry by transforming product forms and the way humans interact with vehicles. Daimler is a leading automaker, and Baidu has extensive expertise in autonomous driving. Together, the companies will drive the productization of automated driving and vehicle connectivity for the Chinese market. This strengthened partnership will establish a benchmark for Sino-German intelligent R&D collaboration and accelerate an enhanced driving experience for the Chinese consumers.”

Earlier this July, Daimler became the first international automaker to receive a road test license for highly automated driving research vehicles (level 4) in Beijing, marking a major new milestone in the company’s local research and development efforts in China. The test vehicles are based on the versatile Mercedes-Benz V-Class with its advantages in flexibility and loading capacities. The Mercedes-Benz research vehicles are equipped with additional technical applications from Baidu Apollo. As of now, these vehicles have undertaken extensive testing at the National Pilot Zone (Beijing and Hebei) for Intelligent Mobility to qualify for the license. According to the newly signed MoU, both companies will extend use cases and enrich scenario complexity both on approved public roads and dedicated proving grounds, with safety as their primary concern. Under the terms of the agreement, the two sides also intend to launch a new joint project in-vehicle connectivity, integrating further Baidu connectivity services into Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), the intelligent infotainment system.

Given the increasing pace of digitalisation, Daimler has continuously built strong local partnerships including those with Chinese tech giants in research and development. The company has actively expanded its cooperation with Baidu to provide further “ Inspired by China, Innovated for China” products and services of the Mercedes-Benz brand for its local customers. Daimler began its partnership with Baidu in 2013, with initial cooperation to develop a point of interest and destination searches. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz was the first premium automobile manufacturer to bring Baidu’s panoramic maps, Baidu Quanjing, to its products, and in 2016 introduced Baidu CarLife, the vehicle-smartphone integration solution, for Mercedes-Benz models sold in China. After joining Baidu’s Apollo platform in July 2017, Daimler became one of the ten founding members of the Apollo Committee, a body of partner companies in tech and automotive, which serves to discuss the development of urban automated driving and management, as well as to promote the drafting of related laws and regulations.