Alibaba eyes self driv­ing ve­hi­cles

China Daily - - BUSINESS - By CHENG YU chengyu@chi­

China’s largest e-com­merce con­glom­er­ate Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd con­firmed on Tues­day that it has been work­ing on au­tonomous driv­ing tech­nolo­gies, as the coun­try’s three ma­jor in­ter­net gi­ants all tap into the cut­ting-edge seg­ment.

The com­pany con­firmed to China Daily that one of its teams is “de­vel­op­ing au­tonomous driv­ing tech­nolo­gies and is mak­ing rapid progress”.

It also said that the re­search, led by Wang Gang, chief sci­en­tist of the com­pany’s AI Labs, is likely to be­come the first project of its DAMO Academy, a re­search in­sti­tute set up by the com­pany to at­tract world­class tal­ent in ar­eas in­clud­ing quan­tum com­put­ing, ma­chine learn­ing and ba­sic al­go­rithms.

Alibaba’s lat­est move fol­lows sim­i­lar ac­tions by ri­vals Baidu Inc and Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd, both of which are mak­ing head­ways into au­tonomous driv­ing.

Ten­cent inked a deal on Sun­day with Chi­nese au­tomaker FAW Group to co-de­velop au­tonomous driv­ing while Baidu ob­tained a li­cense to test its self-driv­ing cars on open roads in Bei­jing last month.

Ac­cord­ing to ear­lier me­dia re­ports, Alibaba has been con­duct­ing reg­u­lar road tests of self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles and has the ca­pa­bil­ity to per­form open road tri­als. It is also look­ing to hire an ad­di­tional 50 ex­perts on self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles.

The re­search aims to reach Level 4, which means the self­driv­ing car is able to fully drive it­self with­out hu­man in­ter­ven­tion in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

The move is also part of China’s broader ef­forts in ac­cel­er­at­ing de­vel­op­ment of au­tonomous driv­ing tech­nol­ogy as the coun­try re­leased a na­tional guide­line on road tests for self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles last week to step up com­mer­cial­iz­ing such ve­hi­cles.

A re­port from global man­age­ment con­sult­ing firm McKin­sey & Com­pany said that the mar­ket for au­tonomous ve­hi­cles is po­ten­tially huge in China if set­tled.

China will be­come the world’s largest mar­ket for au­tonomous cars, with rev­enue from sales of such new cars and mo­bil­ity ser­vices ex­pected to ex­ceed $500 bil­lion by 2030, it pre­dicted.

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