Alibaba Jumps The Self-Driving Bandwagon In China

| April 18 , 2018 , 17:56 IST

Chinese conglomerate Alibaba has confirmed joining its rivals Baidu and Tencent in the Chinese autonomous car race. A report published by South China Morning post quoting a spokesperson from Alibaba says the company was looking at hiring 50 more specialists for its Artificial Intelligence research lab. The South China Morning Post is owned by the Alibaba Group.

The report further elaborates that Alibaba was already conducting road tests of autonomous cars and had the capabilities for open road trials. The company is aiming to achieve a capability where cars can self-drive with nil human intervention.

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This comes a week after China eased its rules to allow nationwide autonomous car road tests earlier last week. The new rules state that Provincial and municipal governments can evaluate local conditions to choose test areas for autonomous cars and issue licence plates by just informing the Ministry of Public security and Transportation

Alibaba’s rival Baidu too is looking forward to achieving this capability. The company had entered the autonomous domain long before its new found rivals and was recognised as the National champion in China’s efforts in self-driving cars earlier last year by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. Baidu was the first company to receive the first batch of license plates to conduct autonomous trials in Beijing along with a go-ahead to conduct trials in Fujian province.

A McKinsey report suggests that autonomous vehicles will have 13% share of passenger kilometres travelled in China by 2030 and expects it to go up to 66% by 2040. Surveys indicate that Chinese people are most open to the idea of travelling in an autonomous car, most of them even willing to pay a premium for the technology.