Baidu has upgraded self driving car software and government will provide nationwide visual mapping data base

Baidu Vice-chairman Lu Qi will be among senior executives who will introduce the Beijing-based company’s latest developments in autonomous driving and conversational AI at the CES trade show in Las Vegas on January 8, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show.

Called “Apollo” after the US space missions that landed Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969, Baidu will unveil its latest 2.0 version of the self-driving software will allow cars to pilot themselves on “simple urban roads,” the company said. The Apollo platform has more than 80 partners, including carmakers BAIC, King Long and national navigation system “Beidou”. Baidu also plans to unveil a new AI-enabled hardware powered by its “DuerOS” platform, it said.

Alibaba has partnered with China’s largest carmaker SAIC Motor to introduce an internet-connected SUV. Tencent Holdings, the social media-to-gaming giant, has an alliance with companies including Beijing Automotive group to ramp up development and transfer of AI know-how used in autonomous driving.

Other start-ups like NIO are also pushing their own plans hard for self-driving connected electric cars as China – the world’s biggest car market – prepares to set a deadline to phase out the sale of vehicles powered by fossil fuels.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, said it wants to accelerate the building of a nationwide visual mapping database, which is needed to power the development of smart cars.

As part of a three-year industry plan released by the commission this week, the government will prioritize the development of sensing and positioning technologies required for self-driving vehicles, backed by China’s own Beidou satellite navigation system.

The plan also calls for the mass adoption of advanced driver help systems, a collective term for functions such as cruise control, lane-keeping, collision avoidance, and identified places such as airports, ports, industrial estates, and mines.