Tesla’s Baidu Maps Announcement in China Goes Viral

Tesla is advancing its Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology in China by partnering with Baidu to upgrade its mapping software. This collaboration is a significant step towards securing government approval for Tesla’s FSD rollout in the region.

Last week, Baidu teased the new maps integration in Tesla, and now we have a follow-up on the news.

Baidu announced on Saturday that it is now providing lane-level navigation services for Tesla vehicles. The Chinese tech giant explained, according to CNN, “With the support of Baidu’s lane-level map, Tesla’s navigation can accurately render lane changes on the road the user is currently on, upgrading from providing road-level guidance to providing lane-level guidance.”

During Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s visit to China in late April, experts highlighted the importance of securing a mapping and navigation agreement with Baidu to obtain the necessary approvals for FSD software deployment. The new lane-level navigation service aims to enhance driver safety by offering detailed information, including lane recommendations ahead of turns.

Baidu has been providing mapping services to Tesla since 2020, but until now, these services were limited to less precise road-level information. Tesla launched its new software upgrade for urban users in China a day before Baidu’s announcement, stating on WeChat that detailed road information is now available “for the first time.”

The partnership with Baidu is crucial for Tesla, as Chinese regulations require foreign car companies to partner with licensed local companies to obtain mapping qualifications for self-driving systems.

This collaboration will enable Tesla to operate its FSD system on public roads in China, allowing vehicles to collect data on road layouts, traffic signs, and buildings. Such data is essential for training Tesla’s algorithms for fully autonomous vehicles.

The improved navigation system has been well-received by Tesla owners, who previously relied on smartphone maps due to the limitations of Tesla’s navigation services. One Weibo user commented, “After the system upgrade, I no longer need to use my mobile phone to navigate. Tesla’s (own) navigation system can finally be used.”

Introducing the FSD system could provide a significant revenue boost for Tesla in China, where it has faced slowing demand and increased competition. In April, Tesla reduced prices across its car product lines in an effort to stimulate sales.

Tesla’s announcement of the upgraded navigation system went viral on Chinese social media, reflecting widespread public interest and anticipation.

On the weekend, Tesla started rolling out its FSD v12.4.1 to paid testers, this time bringing cabin camera-monitoring only to eliminate the steering wheel nag under certain conditions.