Chinese search engine Baidu Inc announced a 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) autonomous driving fund on Thursday as part of a wider plan to speed up its technical development and compete with U.S. rivals.
After years of internal development, Baidu in April decided to open its autonomous driving technology to third parties, a move it hopes will accelerate development and help it compete with U.S. firms Tesla Inc and Google project Waymo.
In the latest update to its platform, Baidu says partners can access new obstacle perception technology and high-definition maps, among other features.
The “Apollo Fund” will invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years, Baidu said in a statement.
The fund’s launch coincides with the release of Apollo 1.5, the second generation of the company’s open-source autonomous vehicle software.