Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-sharing company, is all set to open an artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Mountain View, California.
On Wednesday, March 8, the company announced that its Mountain View lab will be focusing majorly on "AI-based security and intelligent driving technologies."
This division will be headed by Fengmin Gong, the computer scientist who is also the VP of the Didi Research Institute and the co-founder of Palo Alto Networks.
However, the decision of opening an AI lab in Apple's backyard is a huge move indeed. This is the first time the company has spread its wings outside China. The move of opening an "AI industry" by Didi Chuxing is indeed a great initiative since this is what the autonomous industry is looking for.
However, the amount of competition in the autonomous vehicle space is really high and this could pose to be a challenge for the company.
Partnership With Apple
Didi Chuxing's new Mountain View headquarter is located very close to Apple's headquarter in Cupertino. According to reports, Apple invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing in 2016, which is considered to be the single largest investment that the taxi hailing company received to date.
Although no direct link between Didi Chuxing and Apple has been established till now, several assumptions are been considered for a partnership. The first of which is the fact that Apple itself has been trying to come up with its own self-driving vehicle under the name Project Titan, but has met with several hurdles till date.
Secondly, the investment Apple made in Didi Chuxing raised several eyebrows as it is well known that Apple shells out money only for very few low profile acquisitions.
Lastly, Didi Chuxing has a good reputation when it comes to AI, robotics, and engineering giving its track of poaching best of the minds from rival companies.
Who Will Didi Chuxing Include In Its Team?
For its all new AI lab in Mountain View California, Didi Chuxing has included Charlie Miller and has partnered with Udacity in search of talented AI developers.
Charlie Miller, the former computer security researchers with Uber, on March 3, announced his departure from the company on his Twitter account.
Excited to announce I'm joining Didi Research America to lead the safety and security of their autonomous transportation systems.
— Charlie Miller (@0xcharlie) March 8, 2017
However, Didi Chuxing has also signed a partnership deal with Udacity, owned by Sebastian Thrun, to organize a $100,000 autonomous tech competition where the participants will be required to build up an autonomous safety technology.
Out of the participants, only five will be chosen to demonstrate their code on the test car made by Udacity. Winners of the competition will be bagging $100,000 and also the golden opportunity to work at Didi's U.S.lab.