Chinese giant Baidu to start testing self-driving cars in U.S.

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Chinese web giant Baidu is getting ready to test its self-driving cars on American roads, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The company has been developing technology related to the car at a research center in California and hired a Stanford University artificial intelligence specialist to lead the facility in 2014. And the company has also been engaged on some of the regulatory issues inhibiting a wider rollout of self-driving vehicles.

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The company said that its self-driving car had completed a lengthy route in China last year.

Baidu is likely to draw attention as the company puts its cars on the road. It will join Google and Uber, as well as lesser-known firms like Delphi Automotive, in testing on U.S. roads.

The move will come as lawmakers in Washington begin to take a more serious look at the regulations around the cars.

On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on autonomous cars that included testimony from representatives of Google, Lyft and General Motors. Google executive Chris Urmson called for Congress to help the federal government work to make uniform the laws regarding self-driving cars around the country.

The companies are worried that state policymakers will all go in different directions on the issue, leading to a patchwork of laws that makes it more difficult to take a self-driving car across state lines.

In California, the state Department of Motor Vehicles is evaluating draft rules that would require a licensed human driver behind the wheel of a self-driving car. Tech groups have opposed that provision.

The Obama administration has moved to bring some regulatory certainty for the companies. The Department of Transportation is in the process of creating a model policy state regulators and lawmakers could use to craft their own self-driving car regulations.