A Baidu robot is displayed at TV program event in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. (Photo provided to China Daily)
China's top search engine Baidu Inc has announced plans to acquire a local startup featuring artificial intelligence.
It is the first buyout since AI expert Lu Qi took over the post of new president and chief operating officer in January.
No financial terms were disclosed on the acquisition of Raven Tech, a Beijing-based company that works on AI, big data and next generation operating systems.
Under the deal, announced on Thursday, Raven's founder Lyu Cheng will join Baidu to oversee the smart home hardware operations, and will report directly to Lu, who pins much hope on AI to fuel Baidu's future growth.
Raven has developed an AI-based voice assistant that it launched in an app called Flow. It also has a music search and player app Music Flow, and a smart home controlling system Raven H-1. The company has received about $18 million in venture capital funding.
Baidu has invested heavily in AI and natural language processing, notably through its Silicon Valley lab headed by chief scientist Andrew Ng.