SAIC Motor is partnering with Momenta and other autonomous technology companies, to create SAIC Mobility Robotaxi, a robotaxi service. This Chinese automotive company has just raised $148 million in their second round of funding, which was led by the SAIC Group and some other investment firms.
SAIC Mobility has joined hands with Momenta, an autonomous car company, to offer robotaxi service in China. The company got its valuation to pass the $1 billion mark with this round of funding and became a unicorn startup.
Momenta has created Flywheel 4 technology for SAIC Mobilitys robotaxis. Using deep learning, the robotaxis can learn and improve their algorithms quickly. The robots use this technology rather than a rules-based machine learning approach.
The two companies will use the recently obtained funds to buy and create more cars, increase the number in their fleet, and improve the autonomous features of the cars. Their aim is to have 200 vehicles spread across China by the end of 2017.
Momenta CEO Cao Xudong said that the combination of Momenta’s autonomous driving tech and SAIC’s experience operating vehicles makes Robotaxi a success. Together, he said, our companies will continue to develop the technology, products, and ways to commercialize this travel option in a way that meets the needs of many end users. This would be a benchmark for cooperation between travel operators and auto manufacturers, and for scalable, uncrewed driving.
Trials in China
The investment came months after both the companies launched a couple of 100-day trials in Suzhou and Shanghai. The pilot was launched late last year and tested 60 vehicles with a safety driver behind the wheel. As per the company, it reached a daily order volume of nearly 20 rides per vehicle and witnessed a whopping 98% of user satisfaction. It also added that nearly 80% of its riders used the service over two times.
After the successful trials, SAIC Mobility is all set for eventual commercialisation in these two cities. The company believes to meet the new regulations that will be released early in 2023. With Momenta’s partnership, SAIC Mobility is bullish to get the commercial deployment permit in Suzhou and eventually scaleup the deployment of its robotaxis.
In Shanghai, SAIC Mobility will come into competition with Baidu, an autonomous ride-hailing service among others.