Dearborn’s Ford and China’s Baidu Partner to Develop Automotive AI Products

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Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. and Baidu Inc. in Beijing Wednesday announced they have agreed to explore strategic collaborations to enrich consumer experiences and build a sustainable mobility ecosystem in China.

Ford Motor China Ltd. signed the letter of intent with Baidu, which specializes in internet-related services and products.

“Collaborating with leading technology companies such as Baidu supports our vision to become the world’s most trusted mobility company by leveraging new opportunities to build a sustainable mobility ecosystem,” says Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president of Ford Asia Pacific. “As part of our ‘In China, For China’ strategy, we look forward to working closely to offer smart products and solutions that can make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable.”

The companies plan to collaborate on new in-vehicle infotainment systems and digital services based on Baidu’s DuerOS conversational AI platform, with features such as voice recognition, natural language understanding, and image recognition. The DuerOS system enables vehicle owners to command and communicate with their vehicles using natural language.

Ford and Baidu are hoping to establish a joint connectivity lab to investigate innovation opportunities across their businesses in China. They also plan to explore opportunities in cloud computing, such as integration with Transportation Mobility Cloud, the open cloud-based platform being developed by Autonomic, a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility. It provides transportation services such as vehicle connectivity for multiple players in the transportation ecosystem.

Additionally, the two companies plan to leverage both parties’ areas of expertise to investigate technologies and big data to explore business opportunities related to targeted digital marketing. This would enable Ford to better understand Chinese consumer preferences and develop offerings to meet their needs.

“Baidu and Ford share the vision of using technology to build the future of driving,” says Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu. “Together, with Baidu’s leading-edge AI technology and Ford’s advanced engineering expertise, we will transform the mobility ecosystem and create the next-generation in-vehicle experience for consumers.”

The letter of intent builds on the existing partnership between the two companies. Last July, Ford joined Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform as a founding member.

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