Experts say sector is still developing so key players should make moves now
A mix of various players, including major traditional automakers, internet tech giants, start-ups and mobility services providers, are all making foray into the self-driving sector in China, based on their own advantages.
Baidu in March completed the country’s first autonomous driving road test based on a 5G network environment, marking a major step for the internet giant in its push toward driverless car technology.
Alibaba Group Holding, has begun mapping out plans to take on the driverless sector, and Wang Gang, chief scientist of Alibaba’s AI Lab, has been conducting related research, according to a note the company’s cloud computing arm Alibaba Cloud sent to the Global Times on Monday.
Compared with rising tech firms, traditional automakers tend to be more discreet, said Zhang, noting they cannot afford cases like Uber’s, which would be really “devastating” to them. In March, an autonomous Uber car failed to slow down and fatally hit a 49-year-old woman walking her bike across a street in Arizona.
“For automakers, high-tech companies and mobility services providers competing in China, the autonomous vehicle phenomenon may seem a decade or two away, but deferring positioning strategies can rob players of both influence and degrees of freedom,” said Christopher Thomas, partner at McKinsey’s Beijing office.
“Deciding where to play, developing a road map to access the tech stack, deciding the right alliance and ecosystem strategy, and developing the strategic agility to update their approach as new data comes in about the market, are all essential moves companies need to make now, not later,” he noted.
China’s first driverless mini bus runs along a road on the campus of Southeast University in Nanjing, capital of East China’s Jiangsu Province, on March 28.