June 27, 2018 / 1:47 PM / 3 months ago

Ford, Baidu join forces to develop smarter cars in China

(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it signed a letter of intent with China’s internet search company Baidu Inc to develop artificial intelligence and smart connectivity in cars.

FILE PHOTO: The Ford logo is pictured on the company's stand during the 88th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The No.2 U.S. automaker said it would develop new in-vehicle infotainment systems and digital services based on Baidu’s voice-interaction system DuerOS for Ford owners in China.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“As part of our ‘In China, For China’ strategy, we look forward to working closely to offer smart products and solutions that can make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable,” said Peter Fleet, president of Ford Asia Pacific.

FILE PHOTO: Baidu's company logo is seen at its headquarters in Beijing December 17, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

DuerOS will enable car owners to command and communicate with their vehicles using natural language and allow people to easily access information and services that they need in daily life, Ford said. (ford.to/2KmbYDt)

The companies would also seek to set up a joint connectivity lab to investigate innovation opportunities across their automotive and mobility businesses in China and explore cloud computing, Ford said.

The two companies would also evaluate technologies and big data to explore opportunities related to targeted digital marketing, the U.S. automaker said.

“Together...we will transform the mobility ecosystem and create the next-generation in-vehicle experience for consumers,” said Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu.

Ford and Baidu had collaborated here previously in 2016 to jointly invest $150 million in Velodyne, which makes a key component in self-driving cars.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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