BMW has confirmed that it will join Apollo, the open autonomous driving platform being developed by Chinese giant Baidu.
The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the deal which will further the development of autonomous vehicles throughout China.
Baidu launched its Apollo project in July 2017 and since then, 118 global partners from across the world have joined up. Apollo is an open platform “that provides a comprehensive, secure and reliable solution that supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle.”
Curiously, BMW and Baidu had been working on autonomous vehicles for China a few years ago. In 2016, BMW ended its partnership with Baidu because “the development pace and the ideas of the two companies are a little different,” BMW China chief executive Olaf Kastner said at the time.
It’s unclear what encouraged the two companies to come together once again.
In a statement, member of the board of management of BMW AG for development, Klaus Fröhlich said working with Baidu will help the automaker rapidly introduce self-driving tech in China.
“Strong ties between automotive and tech leaders are our key to success in the marathon towards autonomous driving. We are striving for consistent technology standards globally to overcome today’s regional discrepancy regarding speed of implementation and regulatory framework.
“With BMW Group and Baidu joining forces we can significantly accelerate the alignment of specific requirements and technological approaches to turn the vision of autonomous driving into reality for Chinese customers very soon,” Fröhlich said.
BMW and Baidu are also working on connected cars together.