Chinese technology giant Baidu.com has announced better-than-expected second-quarter results, driven in part by the success of its autonomous taxi business. Revenue rose by 15% to 34.1 billion yuan (£3.7 billion) in the three months to June, surpassing predictions from Refinitiv, which estimated 33.3 billion yuan. Baidu’s autonomous taxi service, known as Apollo Go, saw a significant increase in usage, providing a total of 714,000 rides during the quarter. This represents a year-on-year increase of 149%, with the company now permitted to offer a fully driverless service in key cities across China.
The number of rides offered by Apollo Go has been steadily rising, with 660,000 rides provided during the first quarter of the year. Baidu initially gained permission to charge fares for its autonomous taxi service in November 2021. The growth in the business has been fueled by Baidu’s ongoing investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and its leading position as an internet search provider in China.
Baidu’s success with its autonomous taxi service reflects the company’s commitment to capitalizing on the opportunities presented by generative AI and large language models. Baidu has been investing in AI for over a decade and has developed a chatbot called Ernie to rival similar offerings in the market. During the second quarter, Baidu released a new version of Ernie, called EARNIE 3.5, with plans to incorporate the language model into its driverless taxi business in the future.
Looking ahead, Baidu’s CEO, Robin Li, believes that generative AI and large language models hold immense transformative power across various industries, presenting significant market opportunities. With Baidu’s expertise and long-standing investment in AI, the company is well-positioned to leverage these advancements.
In addition to its autonomous taxi business, Baidu’s advertising growth has contributed to its strong financial performance. Adjusted pre-tax earnings increased by 29% to 9.1 billion yuan, with margins rising from 24% to 27%. These positive results have boosted investor confidence, with Baidu’s US-listed shares rising by 0.8% to $125.97 in pre-market trading.
Baidu’s continuous efforts in the development of innovative technologies and its success in the autonomous taxi industry have positioned the company as a leading player in the Chinese technology landscape. As Baidu continues to explore the potential of generative AI and expand its autonomous taxi service, the company is expected to drive further growth and maintain its competitive edge in the market.