Dubbed 'Ernie', its now got 200 million users.

That was according to the Chinese search giant on Tuesday.

Chief executive Robin Li launched the bot in March last year.

It was made available to the public in August.

Now the user number figures mark a doubling since the last update in December.

Li says Ernie has also won some 85,000 enterprise users.

Earlier this year, he said Baidu was starting to make revenue from the product.

It has provided services that include helping other firms make their own AI models.

But the bot faces a battle to stay ahead of local rivals.

Recent data show that one made by an Alibaba-backed startup is fast catching up.

Called 'Kimi', it's not far behind Ernie, and growing much more quickly.

Chinese AI services also remain far behind western rivals.

OpenAI's ChatGPT is by far the most popular worldwide, with close to 1.9 billion views last month.