Chinese internet search giant Baidu has launched a US$200 million venture capital unit to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) projects. The company is choosing to focus on AI in light of a decline in its search and advertising business.
The first-phase investment is planned at US$200 million and the fund will invest in projects that are at their early stage, focusing primarily on augment reality and virtual reality projects, the company told South China Morning Post.
Baidu also recently announced a partnership with Nvidia to build a computer platform for self-driving cars, which will include cloud-based high-definition maps. Baidu has stated that it aims to mass produce autonomous vehicles in the next five years and has invested in a number of related technologies, including a $75 million injection of capital into Velodyne LiDAR.
At a recent conference, chief executive Robin Li Yanhong said Baidu would benefit from entering the AI market earlier than its competitors. According to the Morning Post however, analysts have stated that for the next few years, they do not see any major growth drivers for the company beyond its search business. This is unless Baidu makes a major breakthrough in AI technology, said the analysts.