Search engine company Baidu headquarters building in Beijing, China. Photo: iStock

Search engine giant Baidu is planning to release a fully self-driving bus in China next year, said Li Yanhong, chairman and CEO of the company, the China Securities Journal reported.

Baidu expects to work with a domestic bus manufacturer to launch the bus, which will run on a designated route.

Baidu aims to be a major participant in the self-driving industry, Li said. Earlier this year, the firm launched an open-source autonomous vehicle software called Apollo. But due to its open-source feature, Baidu will not profit from the software via sales.

Li said they are working with BAIC Motor Corporation, a Beijing-based automaker. They plan to realize mass production of certain models of semi-autonomous vehicles by 2019, while achieving mass production of self-driving cars by 2021.