Baidu, Harman to develop in-car AI solutions for Chinese automakers

Chinese search engine giant Baidu and Samsung-owned automotive manufacturer Harman will jointly develop in-car artificial intelligence solutions for the Chinese automotive industry, the companies announced on Thursday.

The partnership will see the companies integrate Baidu’s DuerOS-based personal digital assistant and voice recognition engine technologies with Harman’s connected car and cloud platforms, as well as develop features such as automatic speech recognition in English and Mandarin.

“The partnership between Baidu and Harman will let consumers use natural voice control to more safely and conveniently interact with their cars and access off-board information and services,” said Qi Lu, group president and COO at Baidu.

This is not the first time Baidu and Harman have joined forces. In 2015, the companies launched CarLife, a cross-platform connected car service for the Chinese automotive market.

CarLife has since been deployed in nearly 150 car models from 60 automakers including Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and Shanghai GM, and counts more than 700,000 car owners as active users.

Beyond the automotive market, Baidu and Harman also plan to deliver audio solutions for speech-enabled smart speakers.

Earlier this week, Baidu announced that it had inked an agreement with Bosch Group and map providers AutoNavi and NavInfo to develop “high-precision maps” that it said are necessary to facilitate autonomous driving.

Under the agreement, the four companies will develop a product that extracts data collected by Bosch’s radar and video sensors used in vehicles to generate and update maps. The information would then be used to enable autonomous vehicles to establish their own location.

The Chinese search engine giant also announced this week that it would open up access to its autonomous driving platform Apollo, enabling its partners in the auto industry to develop their own systems on it. Available from July, these tools support various functions such as obstacle perception, trajectory planning, and vehicle control.

Earlier this year, Baidu and state-owned passenger vehicle manufacturer BAIC Motor Corp announced they would be working together to launch a BAIC-built vehicle equipped with Baidu’s telematics solutions.