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Baidu’s Vision of Future: Robot Taxis, Chinese Home Gadgets

  • Company partnering with Harman to create a smart speaker
  • Baidu will make AI development software freely available
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Baidu Inc. has unveiled its latest plans to stake out a spot in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence, including a partnership with Nvidia Corp. to develop driver-less cars and taxis and a home gadget akin to Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Echo.

Chief Executive Officer Robin Li is banking on its growing AI expertise to jumpstart a slowing search and advertising business, while one-upping rivals Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The advent of all-pervasive AI will be the single most important development for the global internet sector, the company founder told investors, employees and analysts gathered at Thursday’s Baidu World conference in Beijing. The tag line for this year’s confab: “AI is the new electricity.”