- Didi has more than 10 vehicles on test and is working with multiple carmakers on driverless cars
- Didi has no exact timetable for an official launch of autonomous driving cars, Uber plans to roll out their driverless services next year while Grab plans a launch by 2022
China’s Didi Chuxing is inching towards a driverless future as the company reportedly adds two more self-driving vehicles to public road tests, according to a Financial Times report.
Qoros, an automaker based in Shanghai, told FT that it has provided Didi utility vehicles for the tests that “took place on a purpose-built testing track near Shanghai and on public roads.” Didi declined to comment on the report.
An industry insider familiar with the matter told KrASIA that “Didi has more than ten vehicles on test and is working with multiple carmakers on this [autonomous driving tests].”
Global e-hailing companies, including Didi, Uber and Grab and alike are sparing no efforts in R&D of autonomous driving technologies in a bid to replace drivers with self-driving cars to save cost and increase profits as the industry is highly price sensitive.
Bob ZHANG, CTO of Didi Chuxing, once told media that self-driving technology would be significantly improving efficiency at transportation industry in addition to filling in the gap where traditional mobility services are insufficient.
Comparing to other players on the ground, Didi is a latecomer. The Beijing company only launched its Didi Lab, which is dedicated to AI and autonomous driving, in Mountain View in early 2017, while other companies, for instance, Google, Baidu and Uber, have been testing a self-driving car for years.
That being said, Didi’s edge in the field is its huge data bank. The ride hailer handles over 20m rides per day, generating a huge amount of data that can be tapped into for testing driverless cars.
Last week, the company in its internal annual meeting showcased a video featuring its CTO sitting in one of its driverless car prototypes moving around on public roads. The prototype was smart enough to detect and avoid stationary obstacles as well as other cars in motion, according to The Beijing News.
Didi has not given a clear schedule for the launch of its self-driving services, while its archrival Uber has already claimed that a fully autonomous car will hit the road as early as next year. In Southeast Asia, regional dominator Grab also plans to roll out its self-driving service by 2022.
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