Baidu executives have said that the company is well-positioned to lead global AI development. At a Beijing conference last week, Baidu's COO Lu Qi said that as the world's second largest economy, China was able to influence the development of AI with its booming tech sector and vast online population. Lu added that with AI, Baidu could “improve the power” of the country. This focus on AI from Baidu supports its recent investment in the technology in areas such as autonomous cars, as well as its voice-based digital assistant, DuerOS. Baidu's CEO Robin Li also commented that the business needed to remain open to engaging with partners around the world in order to lead AI growth. The company recently announced partnerships with companies such as Ford, Intel and the ridesharing company Grab Taxi for its autonomous vehicle project, Apollo.