In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Baidu’s Jing Wang predicted that children born today won’t need to get a driver’s licence. He said Baidu’s own self-driving car – incorporating its artificial intelligence technology – would be commercially available in three years and mass-produced within five. That’s not far off, but how many people will entrust their lives to a machine? A lot, Wang hopes, simply because it will be much safer. He noted that 3,000 people die in traffic accidents every day, with 500 of them in China, “and 93% of these fatal accidents are because of human errors. So a self-driving car can make you much safer”. He also said it would lead to more car-sharing – given a typical private car in the US spends 95% of the time parked in a garage. With more car-sharing the cost of motoring will also come down. So far Baidu has been testing its vehicles in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhu, but plans to expand to 10 other Chinese cities to trial its service in different weather, traffic and road conditions.
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