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China is giving Daimler the keys to test self-driving cars on its roads

It's the first license to a non-Chinese company that permits public testing of robot cars in the country.

Some background: Autonomous-car testing in China is dominated by Baidu, the giant Chinese search firm, which has been developing robotic cars for about five years and testing its Apollo self-driving software since 2017.

The news: Daimler, the parent company of German car maker Mercedes Benz, announced Friday that it is the first foreign company to receive permission to test its cars in Beijing. To get the permit, the company’s vehicles—equipped with some of Baidu’s Apollo tech—went through extensive closed-course testing.

Why it matters: By getting into China early, Daimler will get firsthand experience of what it’s like to operate on the country’s roadways. It also gives Baidu a powerful vehicle partner, allowing it to focus on further refining Apollo.

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