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Beijing's first autonomous minibusses make maiden test voyage -Ecns.cn

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Beijing's first group of autonomous minibusses, Apollo Robobus, underwent a first test in Beijing's Intelligent Connected Vehicle Policy Pilot Zone after receiving licenses on April 28. The pilot zone, which covers 225 square kilometers in southern Beijing, was recently approved and involves road testing, demonstrations, commercial operation services and roadside infrastructure. The Robobus, developed by Chinese tech giant Baidu, is a Level-4 mass-produced intelligent connected bus. It achieves autonomous driving by relying on Baidu artificial intelligence, deep learning achievements and autonomous driving technologies, according to insiders from Baidu Apollo. Level-4 autonomy means that the vehicle can drive autonomously in most conditions without a human driver.


Chinese robotaxi unicorn WeRide bags over $600M in 5 months – TechCrunch

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It's hard to keep up with the fundraising spree in China's autonomous driving industry these days. Guangzhou- and California-based robotaxi company WeRide, which counts Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance as one of its strategic investors, has raised over $600 million in just under five months from its Series B and C financing rounds. The four-year-old upstart said in May that its valuation leaped to $3.3 billion in its Series C fundraising. WeRide has kept details of the backing to itself until today when it disclosed the investment was a lofty sum of $310 million from Alliance Ventures, a strategic venture capital fund operated by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, China Structural Reform Fund, a Chinese state-owned private equity fund, and Pro Capital, which manages China's CDB Equipment Manufacturing Funds. It's unclear how much WeRide has raised since its inception as some of its investments were undisclosed.


WeRide Receives $400M in Financing

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On Wednesday, LatePost reported that autonomous driving technology company WeRide has recently obtained more than $400 million in a new round of financing, and its valuation after the investment totals $4.4 billion. The investors were existing shareholder GAC Group, as well as new shareholders Bosch, China Arab Investment Funds and Carlyle Group. China Arab Investment Funds also invested in the recent D-round financing of Pony.ai. Other investors of Pony.ai were Mubadala Investment Company and China Development Bank. In terms of valuations, Pony.ai and WeRide are the top two robotaxi automated driving companies in China.


China's robotaxis charged ahead in 2021 – TechCrunch

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Autonomous driving startups in China are in an arms race to put passengers in their machine-driven vehicles. Every few weeks, news arrives that another major player has got the greenlight to launch a new pilot program or a small-scale service. These press releases, often dotted with regulatory jargon and flowery language to aggrandize the companies' progress, can be confusing. That's why we put together this post summarizing the progress of China's major robotaxi operators -- AutoX, Baidu, Deeproute.ai, Didi, Momenta, Pony.ai and WeRide -- in 2021 while trying to parse what their announcements actually mean.


KFC introduces self-driving trucks to sell chicken without human contact

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With everyone encouraged to practice social distancing during the pandemic, companies are looking at new ways to keep business going without human contact. Contactless payment and food delivery have boomed in recent months, but the fried chicken expert KFC decided to take it a step further. Its franchises in China are now offering all its products on the streets of Shanghai in self-driving trucks. The chicken trucks, serving socially-distanced food, were first spotted in front of a metro station by users on Twitter, and they caused quite a stir. They are part of a partnership between Chinese tech startup Neolix and Yum Brands, which owns KFC.