Pay-with-your-face systems and self-driving cars: Inside Baidu's headquarters in Beijing

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Pay-with-your-face systems and self-driving cars: Inside Baidu's headquarters in Beijing

A trip to Baidu's headquarters may offer a glimpse into the future of payments, building security and driving.

Baidu is often referred to as the "Google of China" because the tech titan commands roughly 70 percent of China's internet searches. Like Alphabet in the U.S., the Chinese company is also working on a host of other technologies.

CNBC recently visited its headquarters in Beijing, which is home to around 20,000 of its 40,000-person workforce. Similar to companies in Silicon Valley, Baidu has multiple buildings spread across a sprawling campus boasting amenities from yoga classes to rock climbing walls.

Employees now have the option of registering their faces, which they can use to get through security checkpoints and even pay for things like lunch or items at vending machines.

An employee pays with his face at Baidu's cafeterira in Beijing, China
Uptin Saiidi | CNBC
An employee pays with his face at Baidu's cafeterira in Beijing, China

Meanwhile, a small park on its campus is used to try out autonomous vehicles. During CNBC's visit, staff tested a combination of vehicles, including passenger cars, 14-passenger buses and logistics vehicles that could eventually deliver packages.

This week, Baidu announced it will work with BYD — China's leading electric car maker, which is backed by Warren Buffett — to reach mass production of autonomous cars within three years.

Baidu has already produced more than 100 autonomous buses and has plans to sell to foreign markets, including Japan, which is set to receive 10 in early 2019.

Baidu has partnered with companies including Microsoft, BMW, Ford and Intel as part of its autonomous driving project.