If you had told us a decade ago that Google, of all companies, would be developing a driverless car, we likely would have asked you what you were smoking. But here we are, watching the Internet giant not only testing such systems on existing cars, but designing its own vehicles. It won't be the only one, it seems, as reports from China indicate that one of its own is following suit.
That company is Baidu, which for all intents and purposes is China's Google. Only, you know... it hasn't been banned in China. Baidu has a search engine, open-source online encyclopedia, searchable multimedia database... the works. It's the fifth most visited website on the internet behind Google, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo!, and ahead of Wikipedia, Twitter, Amazon and even Autoblog, hard as it is to believe. It was the first Chinese company to be indexed on the NASDAQ 100, and now, just like Google, it's developing its own driverless car technology.
Baidu's system reportedly uses radar, lasers, cameras and GPS to recognize its surroundings and pilot the car without driver intervention. It can read traffic signs, recognize voice commands and whatever else it needs to do in order to drive itself around.
That's about all we know at the moment, with the company scheduled to begin testing before the year's end. Baidu previously announced it was developing a driverless bicycle as well, though we can scarcely imagine how that would work.