WeRide, a Chinese-based autonomous driving company, is starting up a commercial self-driving taxi in Anging and Guangzhou as they try to utilize their in-house data and keep up with other companies like Uber and Google's Waymo.
Since last year the self-driving startup has already been carrying out test runs of taxi services with partners including Guangzhou Automobile Group. It currently has about 50 autonomous vehicles driving around the country and is now expanding its operations.
It plans to double the number of its vehicles to 100 by the end of this year and to 500 by next year. The startup, which is backed by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance's venture fund as well as Hong Kong's artificial intelligence unicorn SenseTime, plans to use Nissan Leaf electric cars in the project.
In the U.S., companies such as Google's self-driving unit Waymo, as well as Lyft and Uber already operate commercial autonomous driving cars. "Waymo is one and a half years ahead of us," noted WeRide President Lu Qing, because of the amount of data that Waymo already owns. Waymo's self-driving vehicles had driven 10 million miles on public roads as of October last year. But according to Qing, WeRide will close this data gap in six months.
Competition in the autonomous driving segment is fierce. It is about the amount of data that the systems run on as much as it is about the algorithms, since hundreds of millions of miles would need to be driven to prove safety, according to a report by think tank Rand Corporation.
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