DiDi Autonomous Driving has reportedly completed a $300 million (U.S.) financing round, bringing its total funding to more than $1.1 billion. The spinoff of Beijing-based ride-hailing firm DiDi Chuxing Technology Co. has been developing hardware and software for autonomous vehicles.
DiDi Chuxing said it launched its autonomous driving project in 2016 and upgraded it to a wholly owned subsidiary in 2019. In June 2020, DiDi Autonomous Driving launched an on-demand robotaxi service in Shanghai. In March 2021, the company announced a strategic partnership with the Huadu District of Guangzhou, China, to invest in self-driving research and development and commercial applications.
DiDi, GAC partnership deepens
The latest round of financing includes $200 million from Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), following the announcement of DiDi's partnership with GAC Aion New Energy Vehicle Co. last month. The companies said they plan to combine DiDi's R&D capabilities with GAC Aion's expertise in engineering and manufacturing electric vehicles.
“The parties will co-develop a self-driving new energy car model for large-scale commercial application with the aim of entering accelerated mass production, through innovating across primary areas such as the drive-by-wire system, self-driving sensors, and system integration,” stated DiDi.
DiDi's 3D real-time traffic display. Source: DiDi Autonomous Driving
Sources told Synched that the valuation DiDi Autonomous Driving will surpass that of rival Pony.ai, which raised $100 million in February, which wasn't even among the biggest autonomous vehicle or robotics transactions of the first quarter. Pony.ai has been testing its autonomous vehicles in the Beijing Intelligent Connected Vehicle Policy Pilot Zone, received permission last week to test in three California cities, and recently partnered with lidar provider Luminar Technologies Inc.
DiDi Autonomous Driving has also partnered with Volvo Cars, which will provide XC90 cars for its self-driving test fleet. The cars will include backup systems for steering and braking in addition to DiDi's autonomy equipment and software.
In April, DiDi released a video that it claimed showed five consecutive hours of autonomous vehicle operation without human intervention.
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