China will always remain a crucial area when it comes to the future of technology. Baidu, best known for its search engine, is also experimenting with autonomous vehicles of all kinds. In a recent announcement, Baidu announced that it plans to put a driverless bus on China’s roads by 2018. The company’s venture into the autonomous car industry is already underway, and is expected to bear fruit by 2021.

Baidu has Bold Plans for the Next few Years

It is always interesting to keep an eye on the autonomous vehicle industry. Although the Western world is mainly focused on cars, Baidu has big plans for an autonomous bus. More specifically, it hopes to get such a contraption onto China’s roads as early as twelve months from now. It’s a very ambitious goal, to say the very least, but the company is confident it can pull it off within the allotted time.

More generally, Baidu has big plans for the self-driving industry in the next few years. Its autonomous bus is just the first of many ventures associated with this sector. Driverless cars developed by the company will come to Chinese roads in 2021, which seems to be on par with the rest of the world. If all goes according to plan, that’s the year during which autonomous cars will make a global impact.

An autonomous bus, on the other hand, is something else entirely. Baidu has been spending a lot of money on self-driving research and development on a yearly basis, approximately 15% of the company’s annual revenue. It will take money to make money in the future; that much is evident. We don’t know too much about this driverless bus just yet, other than that it will be made by an undisclosed Chinese manufacturer.

This autonomous bus will drive a predetermined route when it is ready for service. Which route that may be, or in which city it will appear, all remain a mystery for now. There is a partnership in place between Baidu and BAIC Motor to ensure vehicles can effectively complete their journeys without any issues. Baidu itself isn’t a car or bus manufacturer by any stretch of the imagination, as it provides autonomous solutions and platforms for others to work with.

This is a rather aggressive strategy by the Chinese search engine giant, to say the very least. While it is commendable to see Baidu focusing on autonomous vehicles at this point in time, its plans for a self-driving bus is something most people shouldn’t overlook. However, there are some caveats associated with this approach, depending on how the Apollo autonomous program evolves. This platform was developed by Baidu and made open-source some time ago.

In the end, it is only a matter of time until we see self-driving buses and cars on the roads all over the world. China will be a critical testing ground for ventures like this one, although similar efforts are underway in other parts of the world as well. It will be interesting to see how things play out in this regard, as there is a bright future ahead for autonomous vehicles and public transportation.