Left to right: Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu; Tan Su, general manager of Baidu’s internet of vehicles division; Robert Hou, director of mobility platforms and products, Ford Asia Pacific; Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president of Ford Asia Pacific.

Left to right: Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu; Tan Su, general manager of Baidu’s internet of vehicles division; Robert Hou, director of mobility platforms and products, Ford Asia Pacific; Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president of Ford Asia Pacific.

Ford and and Chinese internet services giant Baidu have signed a letter of intent to jointly explore areas of cooperation in connectivity, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital marketing.

The agreement aims to 'explore new ways to enrich the Chinese customer experience by providing smart and personalized in-vehicle infotainment and digital solutions'. In addition, the two companies also are looking to establish a 'joint connectivity lab' to investigate innovation opportunities across their automotive and mobility businesses in China.

"Collaborating with leading technology companies such as Baidu supports our vision to become the world's most trusted mobility company by leveraging new opportunities to build a sustainable mobility ecosystem. 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, Peter Fleet, Ford group vice president and president of Ford Asia Pacific.

The two companies will work together to collaborate on new in-vehicle infotainment systems and digital services based on Baidu's DuerOS conversational AI platform, with features such as voice recognition, natural language understanding and image recognition in order to deliver a 'simple and personalised user experience for Ford vehicle owners in China'.

Ford says the DuerOS system enables vehicle owners to command and communicate with their vehicles using natural language and easily access information and services that they need in daily life.

Ford says both companies are dedicated to developing new cloud-based AI solutions to enrich the user experience in-vehicle and through other customer touchpoints.

The two companies will also explore opportunities in cloud computing, such as integration with Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC), the open cloud-based platform being developed by Autonomic, a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility, that provides transportation services such as vehicle connectivity for multiple players in the transportation ecosystem.

In addition, Ford and Baidu will leverage both parties' areas of expertise to investigate technologies and big data to explore business opportunities related to targeted digital marketing. This would enable Ford to more precisely understand Chinese consumer behaviors and preferences and develop offerings to meet their needs.

"Baidu and Ford share the vision of using technology to build the future of driving," said Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu. "Together, with Baidu's leading-edge AI technology and Ford's advanced engineering expertise, we will transform the mobility ecosystem and create the next-generation in-vehicle experience for consumers."

In July last year, Ford joined Baidu's Apollo autonomous driving open platform as a founding member.

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