The leading online search giant in China, Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU), has announced that it is launching its second autonomous car R&D facility in Silicon Valley as it also continues efforts to lure top talent for driverless vehicle and artificial intelligence projects. Baidu’s new facility will be located in Sunyvale in a building that measures 36,000 square feet.
Approximately 150 engineers are expected to be working at the new facility on the autonomous car platform of the Chinese search giant known as Apollo as well as on internet security. Baidu initially opened its first outpost in Silicon Valley six years ago before it opened its first research and development lab three years ago. The first Silicon Valley lab now boasts of 200 employees and they will continue their work on data centers and artificial intelligence.
Until recently, the research and development efforts of Baidu were led by Andrew Ng, its former chief scientist, who left the firm earlier in the year. Ng, a Stanford University professor, co-founded Coursera, an online learning platform and was also the leader of the Google Brain effort. Baidu is hoping having an R&D facility in Silicon Valley will help it to attract top talent.
“Silicon Valley is becoming increasingly important in Baidu’s global strategy as a base for attracting world-class talent, conducting leading edge R&D, and partnering with top universities and companies,” said Baidu’s Ya-Qin Zhang in a statement.
Approximately 15% of Baidu’s revenues are allocated for research and development activities. Its rapid growth in China as an online search engine is attributed to the fact that Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google was blocked in the world’s most populous country. Baidu has however struggled to find relevance outside China.
The announcement of a new Baidu R&D facility in Silicon Valley comes less than a fortnight since the Chinese search giant launched a portable translation device which is capable of listening and speaking in various languages. The device is aimed at Chinese tourists for use in their foreign travels. According to Baidu the portable translation device is supported by networks of more than 80 countries.
On Thursday shares of Baidu edged upwards by 0.53% to close the day at $245.27 per share.