General Images of Baidu Inc.

Baidu is often referred to as "China's Google," but it's not quite the same. It's true, the company is working on it's own self-driving car, but it thinks Google's no-wheel design is all wrong. According to Kai Yu, Baidu's Institute of Deep Learning's deputy director, autonomous vehicles need to be more like horses than robots. "A car should not totally replace the driver but should really give the driver freedom," Yu told TheNextWeb. "Freedom means the car is intelligent enough to operate by itself, like horse, and make decisions under different road situations."

The horse analogy sounds a little more like an advanced form of cruise control than a fully autonomous vehicle, but it's an interesting idea -- a horse will typically make a cautious, self preserving decision. There's something appealing about a car designed to keep itself (and by extension, the passengers) from harm. Yu says that safety is a big part of the initiative, explaining to TNW that careless pedestrians are a major problem in Chinese cities. Unfortunately, we won't see these equestrian-inspired vehicles too soon; Baidu won't have any prototype available until some time next year.

[Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]