After JingChi CEO Steps Down, the Company Joins Baidu's Apollo Autonomous Driving Platform
Just days after founder and CEO Wang Jing stepped down from his role at autonomous driving startup JingChi Corp, the two companies have seemed to have settled their differences. JingChi announced that it has joined Baidu's Apollo platform as an official partner. Apollo is Baidu's open, collaborative platform designed to speed up development of autonomous driving technology.
Wang Jing was the former senior vice-president of Baidu's autonomous driving unit. He left Baidu in March 2017 and started JingChi a month later. His resignation from Baidu came shortly after Baidu's AI expert Andrew Ng handed in his own resignation. JingChi then set up shop in Silicon Valley.
JingChi describes itself as a mobility company powered by artificial intelligence. The company is developing technology including high definition maps for autonomous driving, using LiDAR for perceiving objects around the vehicle, and deep learning-powered path planning and perception in the driving environment.
Baidu has requested that Wang stops using its self-driving commercial secrets in competing against them at JingChi, NetEase reported. The company is saying that Wang Jing agreed to a non-compete clause when he left Baidu and obliged himself to confidentiality in his contract.
During Jing's tenure at Baudi beginning in 2010, many major achievements were made in this field of autonomous driving. Jing also played a part in Baidu investment in leading LiDAR manufacturer Velodyne. He also worked on Baidu's big data engine and Baidu Brain.
In December of 2017, Baudi filed an RMB 50 million suit against Jing for stealing self-driving trade secrets to compete against them and for violating non-competition rules by recruiting Baidu employees to work at JingChi.
Baidu has confirmed the news for TechNode saying that the case is against Jing is currently in judicial process. The case has been brought up in front of Beijing's Intellectual Property court, according to media.
JingChi has confirmed that Wang Jing has stepped down as CEO but claims that the reason behind it is personal. Local media have speculated that Wang Jing's departure is largely due to the ongoing lawsuit with Baidu.
As a result of Jin's sudden departure, Han Xu, CTO of JingChi and former Chief Scientist of Baidu's autonomous driving unit, took over as the new CEO of the company.
Now, after Jing's departure, Baidu has shown willing to resolve its conflict with JingChi.
A Baidu spokesperson has told local Chinese media that the company is dropping the lawsuit against JingChi. However, the suit against Wang Jing has already entered legal proceedings and the company cannot comment further on the matter.
The general manager of Baidu's Intelligent Driving Group Li Zhenyu said in a statement, "Baidu Apollo open source platform fully embraces the new force brought by autonomous driving startups. Baidu hopes to lower the threshold for autonomous driving industry and become the innovation accelerator for outstanding startups like JingChi through its innovative open source platform."
Baidu's open-source autonomous driving platform Apollo was launched in April 2017 and has already enlisted over 70 industry partners including autonomous driving startups such as Ford Motor Co, Daimler, and Chinese EV startups such as NIO, Chehejia, and WM Motors.
Baidu is moving forward to become China's leading provider of autonomous driving technology, racing against its local rival Didi Chuxing who is speeding up autonomous driving projects and pouring billions into the research.
Jingchi Corp. is in seperate lawsuit with Chinese ride-hailing platform UCAR since earlier this year for the same matter. UCAR set up an office in Silicon Valley to recruit talents for autonomous driving. In April, four former engineers joined Jing Chi Technology. UCAR is claiming that the employees brought with them trade secrets to help JingChi jumpstart its own autonomous driving efforts.
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