Robert Bosch Venture Capital has announced investment in AutoAI. The company is the developer and operator of intelligent connected vehicle service (CVS) for the new generation of autonomous vehicles. It is established as a separately run subsidiary of Navinfo and is involved in technological development, product development and service operations of intelligent navigation, CVS content, intelligent OS and solutions, CVS big data and operations. Based on the core mission of "Making Auto Intelligence Easier", the company has set up bases for front-end R&D and operations with a total of nearly 1,000 employees in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian and Shenyang. AUTOAI works jointly with automobile manufacturers, industry customers and ecosystem partners in the development of the next generation of autonomous driving, bring further cutting-edge technologies, leading products, ultimate experience and compassionate service to more partners, and aim to become an innovator and leader in the intelligent CVS industry.
Their company, located in a city near their parents' village in Henan province, provides an essential early service in the AI process, labeling images and videos to help make computers smarter. Before a self-driving car can learn to avoid hitting people or trees, it must learn what people and trees look like -- by digesting thousands of images labeled by thousands of humans. Demand for labeling is exploding in China as large tech companies, banks and others attempt to use AI to improve their products and services. Many of these companies are clustered in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but the lower-tech labeling business is spreading some of the new-tech money out to smaller towns, providing jobs beyond agriculture and manufacturing. The science is mired in controversy in China, where the ruling Communist Party is using AI to help it identify and track people in mass-surveillance programs, most prominently in the largely Muslim province of Xinjiang, according to Human Rights Watch.
Pony.ai, a self-driving startup based in Silicon Valley and Guangzhou, China, is deepening its ties to Toyota. The two companies announced a pilot program to test self-driving cars on public roads in two Chinese cities, Beijing and Shanghai. The Japanese auto giant plans to invest $400 million in Pony.ai, valuing the startup at $3 billion. Pony.ai has been working with Toyota since 2019 on public autonomous vehicle testing. With this new investment, their relationship will become even closer, with the automaker and the startup "co-developing" mobility products like "mobility services."
The robotaxi service is under trial run for citizens in Changsha, and passengers can hail self-driving robotaxis through mobile app. AutoX, a Chinese autonomous vehicle startup, has announced the launch of a fleet of 100 self-driving RoboTaxis in Shanghai's Jiading district, where it will be competing with Didi, which began operating there at the end of June. Other companies, such as Pony.ai, Baidu or WeRide are already running self-driving taxi fleets in other Chinese cities, many of which can be booked through mapping and mobility apps such as AutoNavi or LetzGo. AutoX runs another fleet in the centric district of Nanshan in Shenzen, where it is based, and now has a license to road test in California, and has long announced its intention to launch its services in Europe through a partnership with NEVS, the company that acquired Saab's assets.
Fiat Chrysler, in partnership with Chinese-based AutoX, wants to launch robo-taxis in China later this year, according to an announcement. The automobile maker, one of the "Big Three" in Detroit, has been casting a wide net for autonomous vehicle tech, and wants to keep pace with rivals in Detroit. Hong Kong's AutoX said it plans to integrate self-driving vehicle tech into a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans -- the same vehicle that Waymo, Alphabet's subsidiary known for its work on autonomous vehicles, has often chosen to use. The two companies said they plan to offer up the self-driving cars this year in numerous Chinese cities, including Shenzhen and Shanghai, later in 2020. AutoX -- a lesser-known startup than others in the field -- was founded in 2016 by Jianxiong Xiao, a former Princeton professor who specializes in 3D learning, computer vision and robotics.