Chinese search engine colossus Baidu and the BMW Group has formally announced they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), under which the BMW Group will join Apollo, the open autonomous driving platform by Baidu, as a board member.

The MoU marks the beginning of a new partnership on autonomous driving between the BMW Group and Baidu. The two companies seek to work together to bring safe, convenient and intelligent mobility experiences for consumers in China.

“BMW Group and Baidu have a long history of working together on advancing autonomous driving technology, and we have maintained a strong relationship throughout the years. BMW Group and Baidu have been actively exploring the intelligent vehicle sector and are well-aligned in our vision for the future of autonomous driving,” said Ya-Qin Zhang, President of Baidu. “We hope this deepened cooperation will bring Chinese consumers intelligent and comfortable product experiences. Our aim is to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technologies that align with the Chinese market,” he added.

Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for development, said: “Strong ties between automotive and tech leaders are our key to success in the marathon towards autonomous driving. We are striving for consistent technology standards globally to overcome today’s regional discrepancy regarding speed of implementation and regulatory framework. With BMW Group and Baidu joining forces we can significantly accelerate the alignment of specific requirements and technological approaches to turn the vision of autonomous driving into reality for Chinese customers very soon.”

The BMW Group is developing an autonomous driving platform with technology solutions for Level 3 to Level 4/5 (highly to fully automated driving), as well as for advanced driving assistance systems (Level 2). This scalable autonomous driving solution is being developed with technology and OEM partners that contribute knowledge, resources and intellectual property assets for a state-of-the-art concept.

Apollo is an open platform that provides a comprehensive, secure and reliable solution that supports all major features and functions of an autonomous vehicle. Since its launch in July, 2017, Apollo has brought together 118 global partners across both automotive and technology industries. Apollo’s success is built on its commitment to enabling developers and partners to accelerate the pace of innovation by opening capabilities and sharing resources.

The announcement, which follows on the heels of a recent collaboration between the two companies on connected vehicles, marks the next level of Baidu’s and the BMW Group’s partnership in advancing the autonomous driving ecosystem.