Ride-hailing giant Didi has launched an open platform for smart transportation, giving enterprises and developers access to its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

“Open cooperation will promote faster and better development of intelligent travel,” Didi CTO Bob Zhang said in a statement on Didi’s official WeChat account on Thursday.

Didi will provide access to its machine learning services and AI platform, which will include voice, image, and natural language processing. Other applications include scene perception, mapping, and travel safety. Didi launched the platform at the Global AI Product Application Expo in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou on Thursday.

The company said the services could be used in sectors including urban transportation, logistics, and finance, among others.

The system is aimed at providing Didi’s smart transportation services to urban transport managers, enterprises, upstream and downstream partners in the automotive industry, and developers.

Zhang has said that Didi has the “best transportation data in the world.” The company has previously provided anonymized trip data and computing resources to researchers through its Gaia Initiative. Didi’s academic collaboration expanded recently through a partnership with US-based Berkeley DeepDrive (BDD) Industry Consortium.

Didi has launched several new products to secure its place in the market as the company seeks to mitigate risks to its ride-hailing service. Didi has faced scrutiny and regulatory censure following the high-profile murders of two passengers by their drivers using the platform last year.

These challenges have hurt Didi’s bottom line, as the company reportedly lost nearly RMB 11 billion (around $1.6 billion) in 2018. Didi also revealed recently that nearly one-third of its commission revenue was spent on driver subsidies in the last quarter of 2018.

In April, Didi launched an online financial management system for auto leasing and fleet companies in China. Didi said that it expected the system to serve around 1,500 leasing partners in its network by the end of 2019. The platform allows Didi’s auto partners to manage leasing accounts and financial plans, and gives them access to risk analysis and data analytics tools.

In January, the company also began providing financial services to its passengers within its app in China, which includes access to funds for critical illness protection, wealth management, personal credit, and lending services. Didi also expanded its automobile financing solutions to users, having previously only been available to drivers and car owners on the platform.

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.

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