Guangzhou-based autonomous driving startup WeRide has closed its Series B1 round, bagging USD 200 million from bus maker Yutong Group, according to a press release from the company on Wednesday.
WeRide, which runs a robotaxi fleet in Guangzhou for more than one year, and Zhengzhou-headquartered Yutong, one of China’s largest bus makers, will join hands to drive the application of autonomous driving technology in minibuses, city buses, and others.
The two companies have already developed a fully driverless mini robobus, created for open road operation in cities. The bus has no steering wheel, accelerator, or brakes, and is instead equipped with WeRide’s full-stack software and hardware.
“Yutong Group’s strategic investment is a strong testament to WeRide’s robust technology and our constant efforts to expand industry boundaries,” said Tony Han, co-founder and CEO of WeRide.
WeRide kicked off its robotaxi operations in November last year and completed 147,128 trips, chauffeuring over 60,000 passengers safely to their destinations in its first year of service, still with a backup driver. While WeRide is only operating within Guangzhou, Baidu has been running fleets in several cities including Changsha, Cangzhou, and Beijing.
Baidu started to mass produce its autonomous driving bus Apolong as early as 2018 by teaming up with Xiamen-based manufacturer King Long. Apolong robobuses have been in use in 28 Chinese cities, including Beijing and Chonqqing, transporting more than 100,000 passengers, according to the site Chinabuses.com.