BIZINSIGHT

Ex­perts say sec­tor is still de­vel­op­ing so key play­ers should make moves now

Global Times US Edition - - BIZCOMMENT -

Whose cheese?

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.

As part of the “Made in China 2025” strat­egy, which aims to trans­form China into a man­u­fac­tur­ing su­per­power, the in­tel­li­gent and con­nected-ve­hi­cle sec­tor, or au­tonomous driv­ing sec­tor, is at­tract­ing both pol­icy sup­port and cap­i­tal fa­vors across the countr

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.

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