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Baidu’s BMW 3 Series Self-Driving Machine Takes a Tour Around Beijing

Baidu, the well-known Chinese web services company, has developed a self-driving car in partnership with BMW, which has now successfully traveled 18.6 miles around China's capital city.
The self-driving BMW 3Series 2 photos
Self-driving BMW 3Series
According to the company, the BMW 3 Series GT has traveled a quite difficult route, which included side streets and highways. If you live in Beijing and happen to see a car that is passing you, changes lanes, or who knows, cuts you off, don’t worry and don’t start cursing, because the future is here and that car may not even have a driver.

Building a self-driving car is quite common nowadays, as giants such as Google or traditional automakers have been developing this type of technology for years now. For China, on the other hand, this is a huge step towards the country becoming a real contender in the race to build and deliver a self-driving car.

Baidu has been working on this project since 2013 and, if you remember, this year in June it promised that it would launch a self-driving car until the end of 2015. It seems they somehow pulled this off.

According to Wired, there are two ways to develop this kind of technology. The first one is when car makers take a stock car and simply add in features that will later make it possible for the car to drive itself. Google decided to jump a few steps and go straight to a car that will never be driven by humans and will be capable of managing every driving situation.

Baidu, on the other hand, has made it its own way. The Chinese version of “Google” is working on fully autonomous vehicles that will be limited geographically, like a bus that only drives the same route every day. Some analysts say that this is not a good idea, mainly because limiting the route limits the challenges that the vehicle will face.

Another downside of geographically limited self-driving vehicles is that extremely detailed maps are needed, which have to include features like the precise location of lane markers, curbs, the height of traffic lights and the correct interpretation of every road sign.

Baidu says “No problem. We are making our own maps anyway,” and that in five to ten years the majority of China’s roads will be mapped. So, there is still time to enjoy the pleasure of driving your own car, even if you live in smoggy China.


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