Baidu first revealed details about the initiative, named after the historic lunar landing program, in April: It is an open platform that provides cloud infrastructure, open software stack and other services that are able to support major features and functions of an autonomous car.
Companies using the Apollo platform for their self-driving vehicle projects can use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services to securely scale outside China.
“Today’s vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data,” Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president at Microsoft, said in a prepared statement.
He added, “By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning, and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer.”
The autonomous vehicle space has been growing in recent years, with traditional automakers and prominent tech names working on various projects. Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet, is considered one of the leading players in this space, ahead of names like Ford, Nissan and Tesla.
Last year, consulting firm McKinsey & Company said in a report that up to 15 percent of new cars sold in 2030 could potentially be fully autonomous.
Earlier this month, Baidu said more than 50 groups have signed on to build and improve the Apollo platform, including top Chinese car makers Chery Auto, Great Wall Motors and Changan Automobile. Other notable stakeholders include ride-sharing company Grab, global navigation and mapping service provider TomTom, suppliers Bosch and Continental as well as Ford and Intel.