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Alibaba Leads $300M Investment into Chinese Autonomous Driving Startup DeepRoute.ai

UTC by Patrick Kariuki · 3 min read
Alibaba Leads $300M Investment into Chinese Autonomous Driving Startup DeepRoute.ai
Photo: DeepRoute.ai

Zhao, DeepRoute.ai’s chief exec, was quoted saying that his firm is spending a big share of their money for developing the driverless technology, poaching new talent, and increasing the company’s robotaxis fleet.

Giant retail store Alibaba has invested north of $300 million in DeepRoute.ai, an independent Chinese company in the driving niche. DeepRoute.ai’s specialty is developing autonomous auto systems that incorporate both hardware and software. Alibaba’s funding decision is in line with big Chinese tech firms’ ambitions to impact the self-driving cars niche. DeepRoute.ai is however not new in the driverless cars business. The company has been running a fleet of autonomous taxis of which, some are in the control of its partners, CaoCao and Dongfeng. Additionally, DeepRoute.ai is linked with a technology meant to improve logistics space.

The investment in DeepRoute.ai is not the first time Alibaba is backing an auto startup. The retail giant has investments in AutoX, an autonomous Chinese vehicle company. Also, Alibaba has investments in Xpeng, an automaker specializing in electric vehicles. Besides backing these automakers, the retail outlet is linked with Cainiao, a logistics arm whose primary goal is developing driverless cars, specifically trucks.

Zhao, DeepRoute.ai’s chief exec, was quoted saying that his firm is spending a big share of their money for developing the driverless technology, poaching new talent, and increasing the company’s robotaxis fleet.

According to the director, they’re currently running 70 robotaxis. However, they intend to increase the fleet size to 150 or 160. Zhou also added that once they increase their fleet, half of it will be under the control of DeepRoute.ai while the other half will be left in the control of their business partners. According to reports, the automaker revealed that its primary goals are coming up with medium-duty trucks built for urban logistics, revolutionizing shipment transit, and freight delivery. When questioned about the specific projects that the two companies may be collaborating in, Zhou declined to answer back. However, he noted that anything is possible in regards to the collaboration between the two companies.

Deep route.ai has a couple of ways to make more revenue. The company can provide robotaxi rides in exchange for a fee. The company also has an opportunity to collaborate with ride-hailing companies for revenue splitting. Finally, the company may charge one time or annual fees for the sale of autonomous driving systems to vehicle manufacturers. In the logistics niche, DeepRoute.ai may as well sell this driverless technology in addition to running a company’s fleet.

Baid, a Chinese tech company, and Didi have both invested in the auto industry. More startups in China including WeRide and Pony.ai have also followed suit by investing in the autonomous driving space. A new product known as Robovan was launched by WeRide in the past week. The product is tailored for urban logistics, an area that DeepRoute.ai is also widely exploring.

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Patrick Kariuki

Patrick is an accounting & economics graduate, a Cryptocurrency enthusiast, and a Blockchain technology fanatic. When not crafting informative pieces on any of the above subjects, he will be researching on how the Blockchain technology can transform the world, particularly the financial space.

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