Baidu isn't content with merely testing out its self-driving cars on the roads in China, the way Google is doing with its own autonomous cars in the United States.
Reuters is reporting that China's largest search engine company is aiming to put self-driving buses on the road in China within three years and mass produce them within five years. But first, the news agency says that Baidu wants to set up a regulatory unit to oversee its auto-related initiatives.
The plan for autonomous buses also includes self-driving vans and shuttles to touch down in China as well.
"Within three years, we plan to launch public use autonomous vehicles that will operate on fixed routes or fixed areas in select cities," a Baidu spokesperson explained in a statement to CNet. "We require government support of course, and we are in discussion with government at both central and local levels. Thus far, we have heard quite positive feedback."
This is quite the announcement, considering Google and automakers such as Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Tesla are all aiming for their partially self-driving cars to fully-autonomous cars to be released by 2020, but none of the aforementioned have announced any plans for driverless mass transportation, the way that Baidu has.
Baidu has to be growing in confidence with its self-driving technology. CNet is reporting that just last week, a BMW 3 outfitted with Baidu's autonomous technology was able to drive 18 miles, hitting speeds as high as 61 miles per hour. It was able to slow down in traffic, change lanes, merge, make a U-turn and even pass other cars.
These advancements might explain why Baidu is leading the pack, planning for autonomous mass transportation.