Baidu talks about using Tesla Robotaxi in China

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Baidu says that it is considering using Tesla’s upcoming Robotaxi in China as the two major companies appear to be getting closer.

Following Elon Musk’s recent visit to China, Tesla seems to have made progress toward bringing its ‘Supervised Full Self-Driving’ to the country.

The automaker has reportedly secured conditional approval to deploy the system in the market.

Along with the approval, Tesla was reported to be working with Chinese tech giant Baidu on maps for self-driving.

Tesla is already working with Baidu on navigation maps in China, but the report suggested that the two are getting closer to a deal on self-driving.

Now, a report from Shanghai Securities News states that a Baidu executive said that the company is looking to use Tesla’s upcoming Robotaxi (translated from Chinese):

On May 15, Xu Baoqiang, general manager of Baidu’s autonomous driving technology department, told a reporter from the Shanghai Securities News that for the Robotaxi (shared taxi) that Tesla will launch, Baidu will use Tesla’s specific application models and the pace of entering the Chinese market, etc., and consider possible cooperation opportunities.

Baidu has its own autonomous driving effort and offers rideshare services with its vehicles. It would be interesting to see it partner with Tesla on self-driving.

Tesla has often said that it would be willing to supply and license its self-driving technology to other companies, and recently said that it is in discussion with a major OEM.

Electrek’s Take

The real question is: does Tesla want to partner with Baidu on this, or is it being asked to as part of the approval process?

China is notoriously protectionistic when it comes to foreign companies operating in its market. Tesla is one of the rare automakers that managed to get around that with a deal to build Gigafactory Shanghai in its free-trade zone, but it doesn’t mean that it will be able to keep securing those deals.

Generally, foreign companies have been forced to partner with Chinese companies in order to establish themselves in the country.

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