Google competitor Baidu working on autonomous self driving car & bike, why?

img_boyThe biggest competitor in the world to Google is China’s search giant Baidu and in their parallel universe research and development labs in China and the Silicon Valley are working on self driving cars and  possibly bikes which may hit the road later this year.

A Baidu rep told Tech in Asia confirmed that Baidu is in the very early stages of development of driverless cars.

Baidu has deep learning labs in China and the Silicon Valley where research is starting. There were also rumors that Baidu is working on a driverless autonomous bicycle. The bike reportedly will be able to balance itself, while senors navigate surroundings and avoid crashes. It could also identify the rider. Dreamers think the bikes could deliver packages, pick kids up from school and deliver important documents.

So why do search giants want to get in the automotive space? They want to hold a captive audience for their search results and ads.  Once advertisers know where you are and where you are going they know more about you.  When they know more about you they can make ads that match what you are doing.

In an interview with AUTO Connected Car, Andy Gryc, conference director for the Connected Car Expo said that right now we are in the early stages of the automotive OEMs working with app developers and start-ups to integrate vehicles and marketing.

He pointed out that it is good opportunity as long as the ads are not obtrusive. He sees in-connected- car marketing as something like the way Google shows you ads when “it knows that you are searching for something.”

As cars continue to have connected capabilities with preferences, social networks, web searches and calendars, marketing will be precisely geared towards the driver’s needs and likes, notes Gryc. In-vehicle marketing, like all good marketing, should be a service. Say for instance, someone is searching for an exact guitar model, when  s/he is near a guitar store where that guitar is in stock, s/he would receive a marketing message.

Currently available, options that have proven very popular in in-dash and navigation systems are gas prices and restaurants. Gryc, a vegetarian is particularly pleased with systems that offer vegetarian restaurants, especially when he is traveling to new cities.

Then when you integrate in calendars, documents stored on Google drive, photographs, voice dialing and GPS locations, the advertisers could know more about your preferences than ever before.  Take away the fact that you have to keep your eyes on the road driving then the people in the car are a very good audience for advertising impressions.  Currently, when you listen to the radio, the ads are general and geared towards general things.

If the car knows that every day at 6:00 you search for a family restaurant, you could get an offer for a family dinners, say yes and your order is sent to a restaurant a few miles away, and when you arrive, your dinner is ready for pick up.  There is a possibility that eventually you will be able to pay directly from your car

Baidu recent had 34% rise in second-quarter profit due to mobile services starting to pay off.

Baidu in May reported it would invest $300 million in a new research-and-development center in California with 200 employees, be led by Andrew Ng, a former head of Stanford University’s artificial-intelligence lab, who also helped Google devise its artificial-intelligence efforts.

Volvo has 100 “Drive Me” cars in Sweden.University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC)i s working on V2I and autonomous cars. Read about what other tech is in the race for the autonomous driverless vehicles.