China’s largest taxi company Didi Chuxing has deployed dozens of self-driving vehicles on the streets of Shanghai. It is the largest test ever with automated taxis for Didi. Didi is in fierce competition with rival Baidu to become the first provider of paid self-driving taxis.
Autonomous driving level 4
Didi’s autonomous driving taxis are at level 4 and are available in the Jiading District just outside the center of Shanghai. During the test period, however, there is a driver behind the wheel, purely to intervene during an emergency. The rides are free.
Using data from more than 550 million users, Didi aims to outdo the competition and dominate the market for autonomous taxi rides.
In addition to the trial in Shanghai, Didi is developing automated driving technology in Beijing, Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province and in the US state of California.
In 2018, Didi launched a ride-sharing partnership involving Toyota and Volkswagen. Didi hopes that this “D Alliance” will accelerate the development of self-driving vehicles.
The leading Chinese company Baidu is a formidable competitor to Didi. With their Apollo platform, they have also been engaged in autonomous driving technology for years. Baidu received support from the Chinese government and launched robot axis in the Chinese city of Changsha last year.
Didi hopes it can overtake Baidu by making optimal use of the big data it is currently collecting through tests in Shanghai, among others.
Baidu registered more than 140,000 autonomous kilometers driven in 2018.
Other major Chinese companies are also joining the fray, including Tencent, NIO, BAIC Group, and Pony.ai. Huawei will supply the chipsets for Audi’s self-driving L4 vehicles.