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Ford, Baidu set to test self-driving cars on Beijing’s roads

Trials are slated to begin by end of this year.

The Baidu-Ford L4 Autonomous Vehicle Test Project kicks off with on-road testing slated to begin by the end of this year.

Beijing will soon see another non-Chinese self-driving car on its roads.

Ford is beginning a two-year initiative with Chinese internet giant Baidu to develop and test self-driving vehicles designed to meet Level 4 driving automation standards established by SAE International in China, the US automaker said in a statement today. 

This means the vehicles involved in the trials should be capable of operating autonomously "within a specific geographic area and under certain weather conditions" upon completion, according to Ford. The cars are equipped with Baidu's Apollo virtual driver system and were converted by a team of Ford engineers.

The tests will run on open roads designated for autonomous vehicle trials in Beijing and could possibly be extended to other Chinese cities in future in accordance with local regulations, Ford added in its statement.

Baidu is still in the process of acquiring the licenses for this project, but on-road testing is slated to begin by end of this year, a Ford spokesperson told CNET in an email.

The news come after Daimler became the first foreign automaker to receive permission to test Level 4 self-driving cars on-road in Beijing  in July. It also follows Baidu's recent addition as the first Chinese company to the Partnership on AI, a US group whose work focuses on the ethics and best practices on AI. 

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