China’s JAC Motors is teaming up with local internet giant Baidu to develop and produce autonomous cars, the company told local reporters this week.

JAC plans to begin mass production of autonomous cars by 2019; they are expected to be based on a new-energy vehicle – most probably an electric vehicle.

Baidu has just launched its Apollo plan – which aims to develop a comprehensive and reliable software platform for autonomous vehicles – with content ranging from high-definition maps, location services and sensing, to planning and decision-making. Leading component manufacturers are also involved, including Germany’s Bosch.

JAC announced its autonomous vehicle programme this week as it delivered 32 vehicles to Baiduto be used to collect information for high-definition maps.

JAC’s first autonomous car using the Apollo programme is expected to be ready for testing in early 2018.

According to local reports, the car is expected to be ready with an autonomy set at “Level 3” from a scale from 1-6, with 3 allowing drivers to take their eyes off the road and perform other activities under certain traffic or environmental conditions.

But whether it will be made available for purchase at this level will depend also on many external factors.