Shenzhen-based autonomous driving startup DeepRoute.ai on Wednesday unveiled its new self-driving solution. The components have a price point that is well below the market norm, and the company is aiming for mass production to supply automakers as early as 2024.
The L4 self-driving solution, named DeepRoute-Driver, costs approximately USD 10,000 per unit—equivalent to the market prices of existing L2 solutions. The breakthrough allows automakers to significantly bring down the cost of manufacturing L4 self-driving cars, which is always a major hurdle for mass production.
L4 refers to self-driving that can take place in designated areas. A human driver does not need to intervene under most conditions, but can still override the automation system.
DeepRoute.ai aims to supply its DeepRoute-Driver solution to automakers as early as 2024. The solution integrates five solid-state Lidar sensors, eight cameras, optional millimeter-wave radar, and a self-developed computing platform with its proprietary inference engine. It includes everything needed for vehicles to operate autonomously, said the company.
Lidar is a laser sensor that sends out millions of laser points and measures the distance to obstacles. It is a key component for some autonomous vehicles. DeepRoute’s breakthrough gives automakers a much more affordable option to deploy in self-driving cars.
Existing L4 self-driving pioneers, such as Waymo and Cruise, implement L4 algorithms and Lidar, but with hefty price tags. Meanwhile, affordable systems such as Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have removed radar from their cars and adopted an autonomous driving approach that uses only cameras. This form of pre-installed hardware is capable of L2 autonomous, but has limited capabilities in terms of achieving fully autonomous driving, said DeepRoute.ai.
DeepRoute.ai recently partnered with Dongfeng Motor to co-develop robotaxis. It has also collaborated with Caocao Mobility, a ride-hailing platform, to test its autonomous driving systems on several hundred robotaxis on public roads.
Looking ahead, DeepRoute.ai is planning to collaborate with automakers to mass produce passenger-carrying autonomous vehicles, as well as operate its own robotaxi fleet in major cities’ downtown areas.
The vehicles with DeepRoute-Driver will run on roads in 2022 and serve the company’s robotaxi customers. The company said it will rapidly scale L4 vehicles’ mass production and deployment with automakers, as well as enable upgrades through over-the-air updates as early as 2024.