The four-year old Chinese autonomous-driving startup AutoX is getting ready to expand its testing in four more Chinese cities, including the challenging “hilly city” of Chongqing, the company’s chief executive e Xiao Jianxiong said in an interview with Reuters.
In July, AutoX tested an autonomous car without a safety driver on normal roads of California, the only Chinese company to get a license to do that so far.
The startup, which is based in Shenzhen and counts the Alibaba Group (BABA), Dongfeng Motors and SAIC Motors among its investors, told Reuters news agency that it will also test its autonomous-driving tech in a Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
Self-driving tech is attracting major investment these days, and governments and regulators are waking up to the urgency of getting regulations in place to deploy autonomous cars in the not-so-distant future. Google-owned Waymo is one of the pioneers of self-driving tech, and has started offering a driverless car service in Phoenix, Arizona in October.
Germany’s Ministry of Transport is moving ahead to draft legislation that would allow autonomous vehicles to operate on the public streets from 2022, not just in special test areas.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said in October she wants Germany to be a “pioneer” in autonomous-driving technology, and the “first country in the world to permit driverless vehicles in regular operation” across the country.
However, China is already miles ahead in terms of getting “robotaxis” on its streets. AutoX launched an autonomous taxi service with 100 taxis in one area in central Shanghai in August, while ride-hailing companies Didi, Baidu, and WeRide are already up and running in various Chinese cities
In April, Grand View Research forecast that global autonomous vehicle market demand is expected to reach 4.2 million units by 2030.
McKinsey said in a report in early 2019 that AVs could take over most of the automotive market in China, noting that “we believe AV players (from components vendors to mobility service providers) could earn trillions in revenues in China.”
WATCH: AutoX sets up Asia’s largest Robotaxi centre