SAN FRANCISCO, June 1 (Reuters) - Chinese Internet company Baidu announced two separate partnership deals on Thursday with top German auto suppliers Robert Bosch and Continental AG to co-develop autonomous driving technology and smart mobility services.
The two deals underscore the wave of global partnerships being formed in the fast-moving autonomous vehicle sector, which requires both the competencies of traditional auto suppliers and those of technology companies seasoned in artificial intelligence, robotics and other highly technical software.
The collaborations also point to the importance of partnerships between Western carmakers and automotive suppliers and companies based in China, the largest automotive market in the world. China issued a self-driving "roadmap" last year, aiming to have highly or fully autonomous vehicles for sale as early as 2021.
Also on Thursday, Daimler and its Chinese joint venture partner BAIC Motor Corporation agreed to upgrade the Mercedes-Benz factory in Beijing to make electric cars.
Baidu and Bosch will explore business models and accelerate the commercialization of technologies, Baidu said in a statement. The cooperation "will give the Chinese automotive industry a voice in the development of core technologies of automated driving," Baidu said.
Continental, which announced its partnership with Baidu on Wednesday, said both partners intend to develop technologies, products and business models that will provide solutions for automated driving, connected vehicles and intelligent mobility services.
In April, Bosch said it was working with Baidu and domestic mapping firms AutoNavi - owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd - and NavInfo Co on mapping projects for self-driving cars.
Baidu said on Thursday that it would continue to work with more manufacturers through cooperative models. (Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Diane Craft)