With collaboration between German and Chinese companies accelerating in the areas of automated driving and intelligent connected vehicles, Daimler and Baidu recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance their Sino-German cooperation in these strategic fields. The two companies have agreed to deepen their partnership through joint automated driving and connectivity projects, including further strengthening their collaboration through Baidu’s Apollo open platform. Both companies will also work to explore new fields in vehicle connectivity services.
Daimler was one of the first partners to join Apollo, Baidu’s open autonomous driving platform launched in April 2017, which provides a comprehensive all-in-one solution that supports major features and functions of an automated vehicle. In December 2017, Daimler became a member of the Apollo Committee, which pursues the goal of accelerating research on safer solutions in automated driving in China and promoting the drafting of related laws and regulations.
With the changes facing the industry today, we have worked consistently to implement our C.A.S.E. strategy for innovation both globally and at a local level in China. In particular, automated driving and connectivity are progressing at an unprecedented rate in China, and our continued success depends not only on staying ahead of these trends but on leading them. Daimler and Baidu already enjoy a strong partnership in these two fields, and the signing of this memorandum marks a new milestone in the cooperation between our two companies.—Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars
In the era of artificial intelligence and big data, the automotive industry will evolve according to a drastically different logic—from vertical integration to a platform-based ecosystem—making now the optimal time for global automakers and tech companies to work together and deepen cooperation in building an intelligent ecosystem. It is my hope that this strengthened partnership between Baidu and Daimler will lead to more cross-industry collaboration and push forward the global automated driving industry.—Robin Li, Chairman and CEO, Baidu
Earlier this July, Daimler became the first international automaker to receive a road test license for highly automated driving research vehicles (level 4) in Beijing, marking a major new milestone in the company’s local research and development efforts in China.
The test vehicles are based on the versatile Mercedes-Benz V-Class with its advantages in flexibility and loading capacities. The Mercedes-Benz research vehicles are equipped with additional technical applications from Baidu Apollo.
As of now, these vehicles have undertaken extensive testing at the National Pilot Zone (Beijing and Hebei) for Intelligent Mobility to qualify for the license. According to the newly signed MoU, both companies will extend use cases and enrich scenario complexity both on approved public roads and dedicated proving grounds, with safety as their primary concern.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two sides also intend to launch a new joint project in vehicle connectivity, integrating further Baidu connectivity services into Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), the intelligent infotainment system.
Given the increasing pace of digitalization, Daimler has continuously built strong local partnerships including those with Chinese tech giants in research and development. The company has actively expanded its cooperation with Baidu to provide further “Inspired by China, Innovated for China” products and services of the Mercedes-Benz brand for its local customers.
Daimler began its partnership with Baidu in 2013, with initial cooperation to develop point of interest (POI) and destination searches. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz was the first premium automobile manufacturer to bring Baidu’s panoramic maps, Baidu Quanjing, to its products, and in 2016 introduced Baidu CarLife, the vehicle-smartphone integration solution, for Mercedes-Benz models sold in China.
After joining Baidu’s Apollo platform in July 2017, Daimler became one of the ten founding members of the Apollo Committee, a body of partner companies in tech and automotive, which serves to discuss the development of urban automated driving and management, as well as to promote the drafting of related laws and regulations.
Daimler’s local R&D efforts began in 2005 with the first localized Mercedes-Benz E‑Class. Since then, it has continued shaping mobility by developing products and services with the aim to best fit the needs of local consumers. In 2014 the Mercedes-Benz Research and Development China Center in Beijing was opened, allowing the company to better learn the needs and tastes of Chinese customers.
The number of designers and engineers is now almost three times larger than in 2014. Daimler will continue to invest in local R&D, enabling the company to emphasize C.A.S.E. topics and tailor them to the Chinese market.