China’s Uber-like ride hailing powerhouse Didi Chuxing is looking to build its own self-driving car project, according to an interview with CEO Cheng Wei with Bloomberg, and it’s looking for data scientists with experience in the field from Silicon Valley to hep get the job done. The company has also had talks with driverless startup UiSee Technology’s Beijing-based founder Gansha Wu, the article notes.
Didi’s autonomous ambitions definitely aren’t surprising, given the similarity of its trajectory to date with one-time rival Uber. Earlier this year, Didi and Uber announced a deal that would essentially see Uber cede its pursuit of China-based business to Didi, in exchange for a 17.7 percent ownership stake in the Chinese country and $1 billion in a one-time cash injection. Cheng still had plenty of praise for Uber and its approach to China, but the deal effectively gives Didi largely unopposed operating powers within the growing market.
Pursuit of self-driving tech could eventually put Didi back on a collision course with Uber, as the two will eventually likely seek to turn networks of self-driving cars into platform with global reach, but for now, it should be interesting to see how both approach development of the tech individually, and how Didi’s interest affects the admittedly limited available talent pool when it comes to autonomous driving specialists.