Huawei is reportedly working with car companies from Europe, Japan, and China to launch self-driving vehicles in China and Europe in 2021 or 2022, according to the Financial Times.
The move is part of the Chinese tech giant’s plan to grow beyond its traditional stronghold in telecoms into AI products more broadly, and Huawei’s focus in self-driving is on achieving Level-4 automation. This is one step below full automation at Level-5, where human drivers are obsolete, but still entails a large degree of vehicle autonomy.
At Level-4, cars are nearly fully autonomous and can independently handle most driving situations, including complex urban driving environments. Nonetheless, a human driver should be at hand to take over if necessary, although this person can rest temporarily during less complex driving situations, including during heavy or low-traffic scenarios.
Huawei told the FT that it is cooperating with four automotive companies, including Audi, which is owned by Germany’s Volkswagen; GAC Toyota Motor, a joint venture between Japan’s Toyota and China’s GAC Group; as well as Beijing New Energy Automobile (also known as BAIC Group) and Changan Automobile. The company says its self-driving vehicle development is progressing despite its ban from doing business with US companies.
With this, Huawei joins the ranks of Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, in addition to US-based companies like Google-owned Waymo and Tesla, in the hotly contested autonomous vehicle market, which is set to grow more than 900% from USD 54 billion this year to USD 557 billion in 2026, according to Allied Market Research statistics cited by the Financial Times.