China’s GAC Group this week signed an agreement with local technology company DiDi Chuxing to jointly develop and produce a purpose-built autonomous vehicle model, as the automaker sets its sights on the emerging robotaxi market.
GAC Group Aion subsidiary will work together with Didi Autonomous Driving to bring the vehicle to mass production. Didi is one of several Chinese technology companies, including Baidu, Alibaba, Pony.ai and WeRide, looking to establish autonomous taxi services in China and elsewhere. Local automakers such as FAW Group, SAIC Motor, Changan and Dongfeng Motor are supporting these efforts.
Earlier this month Baidu launched the world’s first fee-paying driverless taxi service in Beijing which it plans to scale up in the next two years.
While GAC Group did not disclose its production schedule for the self-driving taxi, DiDi chief technology officer and CEO of DiDi Autonomous Driving, Zhang Bo, said in a statement: “We are very pleased to explore deep collaboration with GAC Aion to jointly develop a truly factory-installed fully self-driving car model for mass production.”
DiDi launched its own on-demand robotaxi service trials in Shanghai in June 2020 and earlier this year it announced a strategic partnership with the Huadu district authority in Guangzhou city to invest in self-driving technology infrastructure.
Last year Aion unveiled a 5G-enabled, Level-3 autonomous vehicle and confirmed it aimed to launch a Level-4 model by 2022.