Millions of dollars continue to pour into the Chinese driverless market. Now, according to research firm CB Insights, $929 million have been invested in the first quarter of this year.
The Chinese markets are very intent on getting driverless vehicles on their roads. From buses to trains to cars, the news has been populated with Chinese innovations where driverless development is concerned, and it's apparent from the amount of money that has been poured into it just this quarter.
A multitude of companies have either gotten investments or have invested in driverless development. Many of them have started testing already, but those who haven't plan on testing very soon with the intent of getting driverless vehicles into the mainstream ASAP.
Former Baidu employees have branched off and taken their own stab at autonomous development in the US. James Peng, former chief computer architect, and Lou Tiancheng, a former Baidu engineer, launched Pony.ai. Pony.ai is described on their website as "a start-up in the heart of Silicon Valley" where they create artificial intelligence solutions, including driverless vehicles.
$14.7 million was funded to Shanghai-based Zongmu from Venture capital firm Legend Capital for driverless development. Zongmu and NextEV are the newest to enter the driverless race.
Beijing-based Tusimple also has entered the race, and seem to be pushing faster than the others as they expect to begin testing later this month after raising 50 million yuan in the past 6 months. They are looking to stay away from using only LiDAR and develop more low-cost vision and radar sensors, believing that it will better appeal to the market.
The race is heating up to get driverless vehicles into the mainstream everywhere, but with the amount of money that China has poured into autonomous development, it's clear that they are determined to win. Hopefully, like Tusimple, they are all also focusing on what is going to appeal to the markets rather than just how fast they can get the technology out.