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.
Hong Kong (CNN Business)The world has been inching toward fully autonomous cars for years. In China, one company just got even closer to making it a reality. On Thursday, AutoX, an Alibaba (BABA)-backed startup, announced it had rolled out fully driverless robotaxis on public roads in Shenzhen. The company said it had become the first player in China to do so, notching an important industry milestone. Previously, companies operating autonomous shuttles on public roads in the country were constrained by strict caveats, which required them to have a safety driver inside.
Beyond trendy names like Tesla and Alphabet chasing self-driving cars, a host of auto brands and other tech heavyweights are also investing in autonomous R&D. Private companies working in auto tech are attracting record levels of deals and funding, with autonomous driving startups leading the charge. Along with early-stage startups, VCs, and other investors, large corporations are also angling to get a slice of the self-driving pie. From autonomy to telematics to ride sharing, the auto industry has never been at more risk. Get the free 67-page report PDF. Using CB Insights' investment, acquisition, and partnership data, we identified over 40 companies developing road-going self-driving vehicles. They are a diverse group of players, ranging from automotive industry stalwarts to leading technology brands and telecommunications companies. This list is organized alphabetically and focuses on larger corporate players in the space (as opposed to earlier-stage startups). Companies working on industrial autonomous vehicles were not included in this analysis. A few of the companies or brands listed below belong to the same parent organization but are detailed separately if they are operating distinct autonomous development programs. Some companies are grouped together by key partnerships or alliances. Given the complex web of relationships between these players, other collaborations are also noted in each profile. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of corporations working on autonomous vehicle technology. This brief was originally published on 9/25/2015 and featured 25 select corporations. It was updated and expanded on 5/17/2017, 9/4/2018, and 8/28/2019. Over the last decade, Amazon has spent billions of dollars working on finding ever-better solutions to the last-mile problem in delivery. It's built its own fleet of cargo jets, explored delivery by drone in the form of "Prime Air," and more. More recently, an increasing percentage of that investment has been directed toward autonomous vehicle technology. In February 2019, Amazon invested in Aurora Innovation, an autonomous tech startup run by former executives from two other firms with strong ties to self-driving technology: Google and Tesla. "Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it's in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we're excited about the possibilities." The Aurora investment isn't the only autonomous technology play that Amazon is pursuing. In January 2019, the company introduced the Amazon Scout, a six-wheeled electric-powered delivery robot.