China’s Autonomous Driving Industry Blooms as Large Investments Pour In

Beijing-based self-driving solutions startup UISEE Technology (Source: UISEE)

China’s autonomous driving companies have been enjoying a period of growth recently, as massive capital injections from investors pour in. Young Chinese self-driving companies that have received funding or are in the process of announcing new funding rounds include Pony.ai, UISEE, Momenta, IDriverPlus, Neolix, GS-Robots, etc.

Investors into China’s autonomous driving industry include international auto giant Toyota, first-tier supplier giant Bosch, chip behemoth ARM, and China Capital Investment Group among others.

According to 36Kr, Beijing-based self-driving solutions startup UISEE Technology announced a strategic round B investment from Bosch, other investors include Shenzhen Capital Group, China Capital Investment Group, Xiamen Septwolves Energy Conservation and Protection Fund and Chongqing Liangjiang Service Industry Fund. The amount raised was not disclosed.

UISEE was founded in 2016, and aims to provide multiple unmanned field solutions for travel and logistics industries, on its core technology intelligent driving platform U-Drive. UISEE claims to be the only mass supplier of intelligent logistics airport solutions for unmanned vehicles in China, and the first company to start commercial operations of unmanned mini buses. UISEE has cooperated with the Hong Kong international airport, using unmanned logistics vehicles to provide baggage transportation services.

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Pony. Ai also announced on the same day that it had closed a $462m series B round, valuing the company at over $3 billion. Of the whole amount, $400 million came from Toyota Motor Corporation, with an undisclosed investor injecting $62 million. The financing will mainly be used to accelerate the development and commercial application of autonomous driving technologies. With a total financing of nearly $800m, Pony.Ai has become one of the most highly valued autonomous driving companies in the world.

Also founded in 2016, Pony.Ai launched PonyPilot Robotaxi project in December 2018, and took the lead in starting the Robotaxi’s regular field operation in the pilot urban area of Nansha, Guangzhou, becoming the first company to provide Robotaxi services in the China. In November 2019, Pony.Ai launched California’s first Robotaxi service for the general public. The company says it has completed more than 70,000 Robotaxi orders as of December 2019.

With Toyota and Bosch stepping into the field of autonomous driving in China, and the decisive “all-in” on part of the ICT giant Huawei, China’s autonomous driving has entered an unprecedented competitive phase. More international automotive giants, as well as industrial chain and application scene giants are likely to consider moving into the market.