Baidu Inc., a leading search and artificial intelligence firm in China, has announced that it will integrate its artificial intelligence chatbot, Ernie, into its search services starting from March. The company has been working on creating an equivalent of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot and plans to complete the internal testing of Ernie Bot in March before making it publicly available. Ernie will be integrated across all of Baidu’s operations, including search and cloud services, smart car operating systems, and smart speakers.
According to an internal memo by Baidu CEO Robin Li, Ernie’s integration marks the company’s effort to advance at the forefront of China’s AI market and to transform all industries. The company’s stock price in New York rose nearly 7% in pre-market trading Wednesday to over $150 a share, following the announcement of Ernie’s launch.
Baidu reported revenues of ¥33.1 billion ($4.8 billion) for the quarter that ended in December, with most of the revenue coming from online marketing services. Additionally, its Apollo Go autonomous ride-hailing services provided 561,000 rides in the fourth quarter, up 162% from a year earlier. With China’s government looking to the industry to revive the economy, companies like Baidu are expected to invest more in AI technology. Baidu also announced a $5 billion share buyback on Wednesday.