Baidu, China's largest Internet search engine, may introduce an autonomous car developed in collaboration with automakers and other firms by the end of this year, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service.
In the U.S., Apple and Google, among others, are developing self-driving cars. Apple has said it could begin production on such a vehicle by 2020 with Google stating it could have its own vehicle on the road in five years.
Vivek Beriwal, senior automotive analyst at IHS Technology, said Baidu's autonomous car project received a major shot in the arm last September when it teamed up with BMW to start highly automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai.
"In 2014, Baidu launched a telematics product named CarNet in China," Beriwal said. "The product can integrate users' smartphone apps into in-vehicle infotainment screens via a simple USB cable, enabling mobile voice search, map location search and other related mobile applications on both screens."
Baidu CEO Robin Li declined to name the automakers Baidu is working with on the project, Bloomberg reported. Li also said that the company will introduce lending applications very soon, but did not get into specifics.