Didi Chuxing looks to Silicon Valley for more talents in self-driving technology
Didi wants to extend its blueprint to grab a slice of the autonomous vehicle field, just like what Uber is doing now.
By Claire Peng
Didi is another new member set to join the increasing squad of self-driving car tech companies. That's not surprising, as China's Uber-like ride hailing powerhouse -- especially when Didi acquired Uber China this August. The company wants to extend its blueprint to grab a slice of the autonomous vehicle field, just like what Uber is doing now.
According to an interview of Didi's CEO Cheng Wei with Bloomberg, the company is currently actively looking for data scientists from Silicon Valley with experience in self-driving technology. This is being done in order to help develop their new driverless car. It is also talking with driverless startup UiSee Technology's Beijing-based founder Gansha Wu regarding a plan to start the driverless vehicle development.
Recently UiSee technology released a short video showing a low-speed autonomous vehicle driving in its company district. It was unclear if Didi would acquire UiSee in the future -- just like General Motors acquired Cruise Automation or Uber acquired Otto this year. But clearly Didi is financially capable of expanding the picture and getting the driverless R&D going.
Didi Chuxing is now providing transportation services for close to 300 million users across 400 Chinese cities. It provides services including taxi hailing, private car hailing, Hitch (social ride-sharing), DiDi Chauffeur, DiDi Bus, DiDi Test Drive, DiDi Car Rental and DiDi Enterprise Solutions to users in China via a smartphone application. Formed from the merger of rival firms Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache (backed by the two largest Chinese Internet companies, Tencent and Alibaba respectively), it was valued as of June 2016 at approximately US$28 billion.
After its acquisition of Uber's China business on August 2, 2016, Didi Chuxing is estimated to be worth US$35 billion. It is interesting to note that it is the only company to have all of China's three Internet giants --Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu -- as investors. Apple also injected $ 1 billion into the company.
On the other hand, autonomous vehicle technology is not only hot in Silicon Valley, but is also drawing other parts of the world to participate in this new field of endeavor. Baidu has built up its US headquarter in Sunnyvale, CA. to focus on driverless cars, and is carrying out test trials both in China and California.
Additionally, Volvo announced it will put 100 driverless cars to test on the road in China. Grab, the largest ride-hailing company in South Asia, recently said they will partner with Singaporean driverless technology company nuTonomy to publicly test its autonomous vehicles.