The self-driving project jointly entered into by Chinese company Baidu and automaker BMW has hit the rocks and come to a grinding halt. But companies may still partner on other key business areas, but its autonomous car partnership has ended due to glaring “irreconcilable differences.”
Both companies would not reveal the specifics of what led to the breakdown, but BMW China CEO Olaf Kastner disclosed that the “development pace and the ideas of the two companies are a little different,” leading to the collapse of the self-driving car deal.
Kastner added that the rift came to a head when it surfaced that both BMW and Baidu had both produced an automatic overtaking technology which makes it possible for autonomous cars to overtake other cars on public roads at different racing speeds.
According to Engadget, the duo had entered into the autonomous car project deal in June 2015, and Baidu had tested BMW 3 sedan series on China roads with plans to do the same on American roads later – making self-driving cars available to consumers by 2018.
While the project research agreement between both companies has ended, Baidu has secured another agreement with Ford on the same self-driving cars technology and has begun tests with Ford vehicles.
Both Baidu and Ford seemed to find a common footing in self-driving cars because both have investments in Velodyne, a company that makes sensors used by self-driving cars for navigation; while Ford has a side project to produce autonomous cars by 2021.
But Ford is not the only automaker Baidu is partnering with at the moment. The Chinese company is also in talks with several other potential partners. According to Wang Jing, leader of Baidu’s autonomous vehicles project, the company is “open for any partners…actually I’m talking to many [at the moment]”, TechCrunch reports.
The fallout between BMW and Baidu is not the end to all partnership agreements; both companies will continue to work together in other areas – and both companies even have common investments in mapping technologies for autonomous cars.
Baidu plans to roll out its first self-driving cars by 2018 with mass production for a global market by 2021. BMW, on the other hand, plans to roll out its autonomous cars by 2025, and Ford looks forward to launching its self-driving vehicles by 2021 as well.