Didi Chuxing Granted Permit to Test Autonomous Cars in California
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has been granted a permit to test self-driving cars in California, as it looks to catch up with its Silicon Valley rivals in autonomous technology.
Silicon Valley is an emerging hub for self-driving car development. With is permit, Didi joins about 50 other companies allowed to test autonomous vehicles in California.
The permit was revealed in an update to the DMV's website last week. The DMV requires a special permit to test autonomous technology on public roads.
Didi declined to comment further on its plans in the U.S.
Didi, which purchased Uber's ride-hailing operations in China back in 2016 and opened its first Silicon Valley offices last year, focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) and security. The research facility in Mountain View, close to Google's headquarters.
Didi's Silicon Valley AI lab is led by Gong Fengmin, a high-profile cyber security executive. The company also poached Zhaoyin Jia, a former engineer at Alphabet's Waymo, to lead its "smart driving" project.
The Autonomous Vehicles team at Didi's AI lab in Silicon Valley is developing state of the art technology for smart driving. The lab is working on ways of applying artificial intelligence in the real world to make autonomous cars safer, including AI that runs in real-time to solve the most difficult driving scenarios.
Didi had been quietly testing its autonomous vehicles in China for several months. However, the company faces stiff competition there from major players including Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, all of which are investing heavily in self-driving technology.
Didi is developing its driverless fleet in a collaboration with automakers and suppliers that it calls the Didi Auto Alliance. Foreign partners in the alliance include Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, and the China units of Volkswagen and Toyota.
The battle for talent in the field has become intense, especially in Silicon Valley, with dozens of automakers, tech groups and start-ups together investing billions of dollars to launch driverless taxi and delivery services.
Waymo, which has driven more than six million miles on public roads plus an additional 6 billion miles in computer simulations, is widely recognized as the leader in the field.
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