Baidu teams with US paratransit agency on LA self-driving pilot

Baidu’s rolling out a new autonomous driving pilot in the U.S. under its Baidu USA division, working in partnership with Access Services, a paratransit provider that offers transit 24/7 in the LA county area to clients who need assistance in getting around.

The small-scale pilot will cover a few short routes in the Los Angeles area, which are still being determined based on analysis of the 45 fixed routes that Access Services oversees in the area. They’ll service communities of riders including seniors with mobility issues, and clients covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well.

Baidu and Access Services aim to have this project, which will be powered by its Apollo open autonomous driving platform, up and operating by the end of 2018. The fleet used will consist of dedicated vehicles, rather than any retrofits of existing Access Services cars and transportation vehicles.

This kind of application hints at the breadth of Baidu’s ambitions with its platform, which it hopes will be used by automakers, researchers, transportation authorities and more. Already, Baidu says it has over 90 partners on the platform, including both technology providers and those using it to power autonomous vehicle fleets and services.