Most of the time, the likes of Google, Tesla, Uber, and the traditional American automakers tend to dominate the conversation surrounding the advent of autonomous vehicles – and the impact this new technology will have on every facet of the automotive market (customer purchasing tendencies, the dealership's role in this new process, etc.). However, your dealership can't afford to forget that plenty of other international players are also capturing as much of this market share as they can in the lead up to this next great shift in the industry.

Chief among this category? The "Google of Beijing," Baidu.

While it might not seem obvious initially how Baidu, a member of China's tech "Big Three," could impact dealerships and automakers halfway around the globe, a quick look at the company's recent unveiling of the Apollo 3.5 driverless car platform at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas should get you off on the right path. As Venture Beat's Kyle Wiggers explains, the latest version of the Apollo self-driving software platform aims to bring autonomous driving to the enterprise level via vehicle fleet management solutions and controls.

Aside from the fact that this open source platform can tackle everything from managing autonomous taxi, valet, and ride-hailing services to assessing and adapting to complex urban and suburban driving scenarios, Apollo 3.5 – and its scalable business solution, Apollo Enterprise – currently lays claim to over 130 global partners, including Nvidia, Intel, and Udelv (a California-based delivery service that just recently announced the launch of a fleet of 100 Apollo-powered autonomous delivery vehicles). Perhaps even more astounding is the fact that plenty of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as Ford, Volvo, Hyundai, and China's Chery, have all adopted the enterprise version of this platform for use in 300 various car models.

In other words, while most members of the automotive community expected a traditional tech giant like Google or one of the American automakers to be the first to break through and make self-driving vehicles a ubiquitous part of everyday life, Baidu could actually be the one to win this race – and potentially also capture the holy grail of being the company that creates a standardized self-driving software platform that defines the marketplace.

Want to dig even deeper into the story surrounding Baidu's Apollo 3.5 self-driving platform and how it could serve as yet another indicator that the automotive marketplace is headed for irrevocable change? Then feel free to follow along with Wiggers in his complete breakdown of this developing story on the other side of the link offered up below.

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