Baidu’s free self-driving software

To gather data and to attract users to its open-source artificial intelligence platforms, Chinese search engine, Baidu, has announced that anyone can download its self-driving software for free.

Despite being in competition with Facebook’s Caffe2 and Google’s TensorFlow, who also provide developers with a library of algorithms and computing power, the company will share its artificial intelligence framework called PaddlePaddle.

To help supply hardware behind Baidu’s platforms, the company will be partnering with American chipmaker Nvidja, to provide free autonomous driving software to any company, giving competitors the opportunity to develop and customise their own autonomous vehicle.

‘Almighty driving data’

According to the Financial Times, the platform can be used straight away on Lincoln MKZ hybrid vehicles, with other models needing little modification.

“Baidu does not have its own car yet, so it is willing to offer Chinese automakers free access to the almighty driving data,” said Michael Dunne, Founder of investment advisory firm, Dunne Automotive. “Chinese state enterprises are far behind in the autonomous tech race. They might be more willing to co-operate or even form partnerships with Baidu.”

Baidu also hopes it can use its valuable user data to regain a competitive edge against its international artificial intelligence (AI) peers.

Written by Leah Alger