China’s Alibaba-backed AutoX starts driverless testing

China's Alibaba-backed AutoX starts driverless testing

AutoX, a Chinese autonomous vehicle startup backed by Alibaba and carmakers Dongfeng and SAIC, said that it has started fully driverless vehicle testing in China. The fleet, which consists of 25 Chrysler Pacifica MPVs, will prove the company’s tech on the roads of Shenzhen and five other cities.

According to Reuters, carmakers and tech companies are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, jostling to take an early lead in what’s supposed to be the future of mobility. To attract well-funded backers, startups are testing their tech with different production vehicles in a variety of cities.

AutoX, which is based in Shenzhen across the border from Hong Kong, has incorporated its autonomous tech on a number of vehicles from various makes, and has tested them in its home city, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Wuhu. In July, the firm became the second company after Alphabet Inc’s Waymo to test a passenger vehicle on California’s public roads without a safety driver in the front.

One thing that sets AutoX apart from Chinese rivals WeRide and Baidu is that AutoX does not use a remote centre to take control of its self-driving cars if needed. Both those companies have a command centre. “We think with current communications infrastructure, remote control brings safety issues as 5G signals are not stable yet and hackers might attack the vehicles,” AutoX CEO Xiao Jianxiong told Reuters.

Also testing autonomous cars in China are Toyota-backed and ride hailing company Didi Chuxing, but their test mules have one or two safety staff onboard to take control when needed.

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