Elon Musk Strikes Deal with Baidu to Push Tesla’s FSD Forward in China

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Key Takeaways

  • Tesla CEO joins Chinese Premier Li Quang for a top-level meeting to discuss key issues.
  • Rollout of Full Self-Driving (FSD) software said to be within reach for Tesla.
  • The US EV giant has agreed to partner with China’s Baidu for mapping license access.

Elon Musk’s unannounced visit to Beijing culminates in a significant agreement with Baidu, paving the way for Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software in China.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made an unannounced visit to Beijing on April 28, where he was hosted by Premier Li Quang.

According to Reuters, he was expected to discuss the implementation of Full Self-Driving (FSD) software and to negotiate for permission to transfer data abroad.

The high-profile gathering has been followed by an agreement for Tesla to utilize the mapping license for data collection belonging to Baidu, China’s dominant interest search provider.

State media outlets in China reported on the meeting with comments attributed to Li Quang telling Musk that Tesla’s partnership in the country could be a successful example of US-China economic and trade cooperation.

Tesla’s Self-Driving Cars in China

In 2018, Tesla’s first agreement of its kind outside the US was to establish a production site in Shanghai, China.

The EV manufacturer introduced FSD, the upgraded and most advanced version of its Autopilot software, four years ago. Still, it has yet to get the go-ahead in China. Thanks to the deal with Baidu, one of the most significant obstacles in the way now appears to have been overcome.

Every driver-assist program is required to have a mapping qualification before it can be permitted for use in cars in China. In this case, foreign companies need an agreement with a domestic provider, and Baidu is one of 12 firms to hold a license.

There is sufficient customer demand for FSD in Tesla’s second-biggest market worldwide. As stated on the company website, the software brings all the benefits of autopilot but also identifies stop signs and traffic lights, slowing your vehicle to a halt on approach with your active supervision. Soon, FSD will also provide autosteer on city streets.

At present, the overall system is not a fully autonomous driverless program. It does require supervision, but plans are in place to realize that ambition, which is subject to further extensive testing, billions of miles of learning, and regulatory approval.

The transfer of data overseas is another key issue, expected to be high on the agenda in Beijing. Since 2021, Tesla has stored all data collated by its Chinese fleet at their Shanghai base, as local laws dictate.

No information has been moved back to the US, but that could change to some extent. Musk is seeking authority from the Chinese administration to transfer the data to other locations to train algorithms and contribute to further autonomous driving system advances.