Volvo Cars will provide DiDi with XC90 cars equipped with necessary backup systems for functions such as steering and braking, and collaborate with DiDi Autonomous Driving to integrate the additional software and hardware required to make it fully ready for autonomous drive.
The XC90 cars will be the first to integrate DiDi Gemini, DiDi Autonomous Driving's new self-driving hardware platform and are intended to be deployed for ride-hailing in DiDi's network in the future.
The agreement reinforces Volvo Cars' position as a provider of cars and the partner of choice for self-driving fleets, building on its reputation as a global leader in automotive safety.
The built-in backup systems and safety features on the XC90s, combined with DiDi Autonomous Driving's advanced self-driving system, will eventually allow the cars to operate without safety drivers in robotaxi services.
Building on today's agreement, Volvo Cars and DiDi Autonomous Driving look to build a long-term partnership as DiDi continues to expand its autonomous test fleets across China and the US and scales up its commercial robotaxi operations.
As the world's leading shared mobility technology platform, DiDi uses its deep expertise in network operation and large bank of real-world driving data to develop commercial autonomous transportation services by collaborating with the world's premium car makers.
In 2020, Volvo Cars provided DiDi with Volvo XC60s for use in Shanghai's first pilot robotaxi programme. People in certain areas of Shanghai could book trips by robotaxi in the DiDi app and be driven autonomously, while the cars were monitored by a safety driver and engineer.
"This strategic collaboration with DiDi Autonomous Driving is further validation of our ambition to be the partner of choice to the world's leading ride-hailing companies," said Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars' chief executive. "Combining DiDi's expanding robotaxi programme with our safe cars creates a great match to build trust among consumers for autonomous ride-hailing.
"In expanding partnerships with global automotive industry leaders, we believe shared, electric and autonomous vehicle networks will be crucial for future urban transport systems to achieve the highest safety and sustainability standards,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Bob Zhang, CEO of DiDi Autonomous Driving and CTO of Didi Chuxing. "DiDi Gemini, our new self-driving hardware platform incorporates critical hardware improvements from our test passenger service operations in Shanghai. With Volvo Cars' leadership in safety, we look forward to achieving new milestones towards future autonomous transport services.
Volvo Cars' partner-of-choice ambition comes as ride-hailing firms around the globe seek to expand their fleets with fully autonomous cars in a safe and responsible way. The reputation of Volvo Cars as a global leader in automotive safety is a strong asset as it pursues this ambition.
In a strategic partnership between DiDi Autonomous Driving and the Huadu District of Guangzhou, DiDi disclosed its plan to invest in R&D in self-driving technology and commercial applications in Guangzhou. Guangzhou is China's third largest city, with a population of over 15 million.
DiDi first began to develop and test autonomous driving vehicles in 2016. In August 2019, DiDi upgraded its autonomous driving unit into an independent company. Currently, DiDi Autonomous Driving has more than 500 R&D personnel, covering Perception, HD maps, Prediction, Planning and Control, Infrastructure and Simulation, etc. The Company holds open-road testing licenses in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Hefei in China, as well as California in the US. In June 2020, DiDi Autonomous Driving launched an on-demand robotaxi service in Shanghai.