Chinese self-driving car company WeRide launches “Robovan” for delivery

WeRide’s Robovan is a self-driving car designed for urban logistics. WeRide has partnered with automaker Jiangling Motors and delivery company ZTO Express for the Robovan project.

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Guangzhou, China — China’s self-driving startup WeRide has partnered with leading automakers and shipping companies to launch self-driving cargo vans.

A strategic partnership between WeRide, automaker Jiangling Motors Corp. (JMC) and delivery company ZTO Express aims to commercialize and mass produce “Robovan” for urban logistics.

WeRide, backed by Nissan, manufactures autonomous driving systems for a variety of vehicles. Since 2019, we have been testing robot axes, or autonomous taxis, on the streets of Guangzhou, China, where our headquarters are located. Last year, the company launched services to the general public in a limited area of ​​the city.

The company is also testing a self-driving bus called Robobus. Testing these vehicles has helped develop Robovan.

“We found that the line between passenger cars and urban logistics vehicles is gone,” WeRide CEO Tony Han told CNBC Thursday. “It’s a self-driving car. If you put a seat there, it acts as a robot accelerator. If you put a cabinet there, it’s actually a logistics car.”

“These two applications [robotaxi and logistics] Technology can be shared and both of them can potentially generate significant amounts of revenue and profit. Would you like to try both? “Han said.

WeRide will provide Robovan with an autonomous driving system, JMC will be in charge of manufacturing, and ZTO will deploy vehicles for logistics operations.

According to Han, the company is likely to test the Robovan and install two or three locations to improve the performance of the vehicle. Once these pilot projects are complete, Robovan can be deployed on a large scale. Han refused to provide a timeline for this, but said he expects “tens of thousands” of vehicles to be deployed in the future.

WeRide is one of China’s self-driving startups and is worth about $ 3.3 billion. It competes with companies such as Baidu and Pony.ai. It is expanding rapidly and acquired an autonomous truck company called MoonX.AI earlier this year. MoonX already had a relationship with ZTO Express before the acquisition.

According to Han, WeRide has been working with JMC on logistics research projects since 2019. When MoonX was acquired, WeRide successfully introduced ZTO Express as a partner.

WeRide’s business model revolves around not only licensing technology, but also being involved in the final operation of ZTO’s logistics network using Robovans.

“By doing this, we can continue to earn money and at the same time get feedback on how to improve our products,” Han said.

Shortage of chips

The global semiconductor shortage is affecting the entire industry, including automakers.

WeRide’s autonomous driving system relies on various chips given the amount of sensors involved. Han said the company could impact the company as it began producing larger vehicles.

“We use sensor towers, all these sensors, computing units, so a shortage of these types of chips may affect our delivery and … our deployment plans. I think, “Han said.

He said the chip shortage would not affect the current project with JMC and ZTO. But he said that if a company needs to make 10,000 to 50,000 Robobans, the company can see the effect.

“We need to work ahead of time on the supply chain and how to protect it,” Han said.

Source link Chinese self-driving car company WeRide launches “Robovan” for delivery

https://texasnewstoday.com/chinese-self-driving-car-company-weride-launches-robovan-for-delivery/451591/

Nina Zatulini

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