The autonomous driving unit of Didi Chuxing is now an independent firm, said the Chinese transportation and ride-sharing giant. The autonomous unit of Didi was created back in 2016 and it currently employs 200 people in China and the United States.
The announcement about the independent firm came after a month following the reports by The Information about Didi’s talks with the investors including SoftBank, its largest shareholder, for raising money for the unit.
Didi talked about the new changes in the firm and said in an announcement that the it will incorporate the technical advantages and resources of Didi’s platform, intensify collaboration with upstream and downstream auto innovative technologies and continue to promote self-driving technology. The firm is reportedly expected to also increase investment in R&D of core innovative technologies.
According to a report by The Financial Times last year, Didi has been approved to test its self-driving vehicles in California, where the firm has a research facility in Mountain View. But Didi will have to catch up with other organizations that have been working and testing their autonomous cars both in China and the United States. Didi was the 53rd company in California to get a permit for testing self-driving vehicles, behind their industry competitors like Waymo and Uber.
However, Didi has already been testing its autonomous vehicles, that are developed in partnership with suppliers and car manufacturers, in China. But the firm has been significantly lagging in terms of testing, especially by Baidu last year, which alone noted 140,000 kilometers in Beijing or approximately about 91 percent of the 153,600 miles registered by all the test-driven autonomous fleets owned by eight different organizations, including Tencent, Pony.ai, Didi and automakers like BAIC , Daimler AG, NIO and Audi.
Besides being able to license its technology to other vehicle and transportation businesses, the introduction of Robo-taxis may assist Didi’s ride-sharing business to compensate for the scarcity of drivers. The company has enforced stringent regulations concerning the safety of their passengers after two female customers were killed by the drivers on Didi’s ride-sharing platform.
The firm has reportedly removed about 300,000 drivers from its company that were not able to meet the standards of the new policies as Didi wants to prioritize its passenger’s safety first.
The CTO of Didi, Zhang Bo will be taking over as CEO in the new autonomous driving company. The former executive director of Shunwei China Internet Fund, Meng Xing is the COO, while software engineers Zheng Jianqiang and Jia Zhaoyin, the head of its technical activities for the smart-driving project of Didi will lead its R&D teams in the United States and China.