Ford and Volvo are partnering with Chinese search engine operator Baidu on various autonomous vehicle projects, aimed at the Chinese market. Ford is collaborating with Baidu on a two-year joint autonomous vehicle test project, under which the two companies will advance the development and on-road testing of autonomous vehicles in China.

The vehicles will be designed to meet the Level 4 (L4) driving automation standard as defined by SAE International. This means that upon completion of the development and testing process, the vehicles will be capable of operating autonomously within a specific geographic area and under certain weather conditions.

Volvo and Baidu will develop electric and fully autonomous drive-compatible cars with the aim of mass producing them for China, the largest car market in the world.

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Based on the collaboration agreement, Baidu will contribute with its Apollo autonomous driving platform, while Volvo will provide access to its expertise and technologies.

Industry forecasts show that China is likely to become the single largest market for autonomous cars in the world in coming decades. Market research firm IHS Markit predicted earlier this year that around 14.5 million autonomous cars will be sold in China by 2040, out of a total global volume of around 33 million.