German automaker Volkswagen announced on Monday that it has signed an agreement with its subsidiary Mobility Asia, Chinese auto manufacturer JAC, and Hefei’s city government to develop autonomous driving solutions.
Hefei is where the JAC-Volkswagen joint venture is located. It was founded in 2017 and focuses on the development, production, and marketing of all-electric vehicles.
The focus of the “Smart City Project” is in developing robo-taxis that incorporate autonomous fleet management, said VW, adding that this can be applied to ride-hailing and car-sharing.
Though it will take some time before robo-taxis begin service on Hefei’s streets, a similar initiative is making headway in the same province. In Anqing, two-year-old startup WeRide has been recruiting riders to test its self-driving cars. WeRide’s cars are Level 4 autonomous vehicles, meaning the driver does not need to interfere with any driving operations to maintain his or her safety, and that autonomous travel is available under specific conditions, such as traffic jams and designated self-driving zones. The company plans to host a fleet of 100 autonomous driving vehicles by the end of this year.
Robin Li, founder of Chinese tech giant Baidu, also revealed in March that the company would begin commercializing its autonomous vehicles in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in Central China. Baidu will roll out 100 robo-taxis in the city by the end of 2019.
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