Chinese transportation giant Didi Chuxing revealed that they have completed a series of driving tests for its autonomous cars, marking another milestone along its way in keeping up with the global craze towards self-driving vehicles.
In a video showcased at the company’s annual meeting, Company CTO Bob Zhang made an introduction from the inside of a self-driving vehicle prototype as it drove around the city, navigating around pedestrians, static obstacles, and moving vehicles. “Self-driving technology will greatly enhance the efficiency of transportation, and will be an effective way for filling in the gaps in the supply of transporation services,“ Zhang said.
Didi Chuxing is actively testing over 10 prototyped vehicles in three cities in China and US since last year, the firm noted.
For now, Didi Chuxing is designing self-driving software while the hardware is manufactured by automaker partners. The firm did not name the partners in this specific project, but this shouldn’t be an obstacle given the firm’s extensive cooperation with automobile manufacturers.
Despite the exhilarating progress, the company still keeps a relative low profile in talking about its autonomous vehicle project. And the reasons seem to be fair enough. There’re still lots of uncertainties in the project because “[a]utonomous driving car is influenced by so many things other than technology,” a spokesperson told TechNode.
For example, the firm emphasized that this is just a preliminary testing, rather than a road test in its fullest sense. No comments were given on its position in Didi Chuxing’s business structure and possible collaboration with other services. “Improving transpiration security is the reason why Didi Chuxing invests in self-driving technologies, which is going to find huge application in ride-hailing services. No matter how technology develops, drivers providing quality services could not be replaced,” the spokesperson said.
Despite all the uncertainties, one thing is clear: Didi Chuxing is serious about autonomous driving. Among a of series autonomous vehicle-targeted efforts, the transportation titan launched Didi Labs in Mountain View last March to focus on AI-based security and autonomous driving technologies. After that, it launched a self-driving car challenge with Udacity last year. It’s also actively recruiting for AV talents, and plans to put more effort, human resource and investment in AV this year.
Unsurprisingly, the company is facing fierce competition from a slate of rivals home and abroad, from Baidu to Google as well as its frenemy Uber, who also has visions of launching its own autonomous fleets.