On March 15, Baidu's Chief Scientist Andrew Ng revealed that China's leading search engine company is looking into expanding its autonomous car business -- just like Google -- and that it has set its sights on testing its self-driving car in the United States.
True to its word, the Chinese company announced on April 22 that it has already formed a self-driving car research, development and testing team, launching its R&D Center in Silicon Valley, very close to Google's office.
"Baidu is fully committed to making self-driving cars a reality [...] Baidu's Silicon Valley car team will play a significant role in building the car of the future," Jing Wang said, Baidu's senior vice president and general manager of the Autonomous Driving Unit (ADU).
The new team, which Baidu aims to grow to more than 100 engineers and researchers before 2016 ends, will be called the ADU-US and will focus on control, planning, operations and systems development of the company's autonomous cars.
The ADU-US already has its Software Architect in Liang Heng, a Stanford University Ph.D. holder in Electrical Engineering who was originally hired by Tesla as part of the Autopilot Team. Prior to his five month work at Tesla, Liang Heng worked at Google as part of the Google Map Street View Team, giving him a good grasp of the subject and an idea of what could and could not be done for autonomous vehicles.
Chief Scientist Andrew Ng was also a part of Google prior to hopping over to Baidu. Ng founded and led Google Brain, a project aimed at cracking deep learning techniques to improve Artificial Intelligence, so there is also much that he can contribute to Baidu.
With the very skilled leaders that Baidu has put in place for its ADU-US team, it is only a matter of time before it reaches its goal of hiring 100 engineers and researchers.
"Hiring for Baidu has been easier than I'd expected [...] A lot of engineers have always wanted to work on AI. ... My job is providing the team with the best possible environment for them to do AI, for them to be the future heroes of deep learning," Ng said in an interview.