WeRide, a China-based autonomous driving startup, said on Thursday that it would start developing self-driving vans for urban logistics service, with automaker JMC and delivery firm ZTO Express.
The Guangzhou-based startup, led by founder Tony Han, is pursuing what is known in the auto industry as a level 4 autonomous standard, in which the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention.
WeRide is currently testing autonomous passenger cars and mini-buses.
Backed by Nissan Motor, WeRide said in a statement that it would jointly develop self-driving vans with JMC, in which Ford Motor as a stake, and ZTO. A pilot test will take place near the airport in Guangzhou city.
Automakers and technology firms are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many consider the future of mobility.
WeRide says it aims to develop the most advanced autonomous driving technology, which will make trips safer and more efficient. It has received strategic investment from top-tier global automakers, including Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and Yutong Group. WeRide is the first startup in the world to hold driverless test permits in both China and the US.
Established in 2017, WeRide is headquartered in Guangzhou, China, and maintains R&D and operation centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Zhengzhou, Shenzhen and Anqing, as well as San Jose in the US. It employs a highly skilled team and has extensive domestic and international experience in R&D, business models and business operations.
WeRide launched the first Robotaxi service, completely open to the public, in November 2019 in Guangzhou, covering an area of 144 square kilometers. A total of 147,128 trips were completed with more than 60,000 passengers during the first year of WeRide Robotaxi services.