Self-driving electric cars are on the move in China, with one provider promising to launch as many as 4,000 autonomous vehicles by the end of the year.
In the world’s largest car market, cars will increasingly operate on their own. The technology has been available in the U.S. for some time.
Ride-hailing service, Didi Chuxing, has put 90 self-driving vehicles into operations as its taxis in Beijing and Chengdu. The taxi service has 120 self-driving vehicles in testing.
Chongqing, the largest city in northwest China, will test 1,500 self-driving cars over the next three years.
China is working with Silicon Valley-based chip-maker Qualcomm and Ford Motor to develop automotive tech.
Riding into the forefront is Zhaojin Auto Logistics, which has been running self-driving vehicles in China for over three years. This week, it announced it was forming an autonomous vehicle subsidiary that will create its own autonomous driving platform, RUSH Driver.
“We’re working on a proprietary, self-driving platform that we’ll launch by the end of the year in the U.S. for the massive automotive market,” said CEO Chen Xu (second from left). “We’re also talking to Nordea to jointly launch a fleet of RUSH Driver cars in Sweden this year. And finally, we’re working with Volkswagen to launch a large-scale pilot in France next year.”
Zhaojin plans to launch self-driving pilot programs in 12 cities around the world by the end of 2020.
“One day, we want to have a fleet of 100,000 cars all on the RUSH Driver platform,” said Xu.
Zhaojin is also expanding its commercial fleet. It plans to deploy 20 million small to medium-sized vehicles in 2030, and it’s currently running 2 million vehicles in China.
For now, self-driving taxis are only available in Chengdu and Beijing. Carpooling is popular in China and is likely to expand further. More carpooling jobs could be created, helping the auto market grow without putting more people on the road.