Ford China and Chinese tech giant Baidu have signed a letter of intent (LOI) to explore “areas of cooperation” in artificial intelligence (AI), connectivity and digital marketing.
The LOI was signed at Baidu’s headquarters in Beijing, Ford said in a statement Wednesday. Among other things, the two businesses are set to work together on in-vehicle infotainment systems and digital services based on Baidu’s DuerOS, a conversational AI platform.
They will also seek to set up a joint connectivity lab to “investigate innovation opportunities across their automotive and mobility businesses in China” and will look into opportunities in cloud computing.
“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,” Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president of Ford Asia Pacific, said in a statement.
Baidu’s president, Ya-Qin Zhang, said that the two companies shared the vision of using technology to build the future of driving. “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,” he added.
Wednesday’s announcement between Ford and Baidu represents the latest collaboration between China and the West in the automotive sector. In March, for example, it was announced that the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, was to partner with two Chinese institutes to develop research into connected and autonomous vehicle technology.
Research will focus on everything from automated vehicle testing to deep learning in automated driving and applied artificial intelligence. A "shared research center" for automated driving will be set up while faculty and graduate student exchanges are also in the pipeline.