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News Article

DiDi, Volvo Cars Advance Autonomous Driving

By Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 04/21/2021 - 12:36

DiDi Autonomous Driving, the self-driving technology branch of DiDi Chuxing, and Volvo Cars signed a strategic collaboration agreement focused on autonomous vehicles for DiDi's self-driving test fleet. Volvo will provide XC90 models that will be equipped with all the necessary backup systems for autonomous functionalities while collaborating with DiDi to integrate additional software and hardware. XC90 cars will be equipped with DiDi Gemini, which is DiDi's self-driving hardware platform, and are intended to be deployed in DiDi's network to offer ride-hailing services.

“In expanding partnerships with global automotive industry leaders, we believe shared, electric and autonomous vehicle networks will be crucial for future urban transportation systems to achieve the highest safety and sustainability standards,” said Bob Zhang, CEO of DiDi Autonomous Driving and CTO of DiDi Chuxing.

Both companies are confident that this partnership will eventually allow the cars to operate without safety drivers for robotaxi services. Both, Volvo Cars – a subsidiary of Chinese Geely Holding Group – and DiDi Chuxing are expanding their collaboration as they continue to "build a long-term partnership” aiming to expand autonomous test fleets across China and the US.

“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 Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars’ CEO. “Combining DiDi’s expanding robotaxi program with our safe cars creates a great match to build trust among consumers for autonomous ride-hailing.”

DiDi and Volvo Cars’ partnership comes at a time when ride-hailing companies and startups in the mobility segment are racing toward safer and more efficient operations, which include the development of fully autonomous cars.

What is DiDi Gemini?

DiDi Gemini is DiDi Autonomous Driving’s new self-driving hardware platform. Based on DiDi’s massive database of ride-hailing data and real-world road test data, DiDi Gemini incorporates critical hardware upgrades including improved sensors, 700TOPS computing power and an ASIL-D rated fallback system. As of today, the system has four layers of redundancy, according to the company:

  • Diverse High-Performance Sensors. Fifty different interconnected sensors allow the vehicle to understand its surroundings.
  • Fallback G System. This functions as a backup system that responds within milliseconds if the primary system fails.
  • Remote Safety Assistance System. Four fisheye cameras placed on all sides of the vehicle allow remote monitoring through 5G technology.
  • Volvo XC90’s Backup Systems. The vehicle is equipped with backup system functions that allow steering and braking, as well as the ability to act in case the vehicle needs to be brought to a safe stop.

What About Mexico?

Mexico has several challenges to address to implement autonomous vehicles. One of these is the lack of 5G technology and infrastructure. Luz Elena Jurado, CEO of Volvo Trucks, explained at Mexico Automotive Summit 2021 that vehicle connectivity demands 5G technology. “It has a broader bandwidth and it gives data at a faster rate. It allows more data to be available for processing,” she explained. In Mexico, Jurado believes challenges are apparent. “There are great challenges: integration, synergy and association with the government are vital to have access to this 5G connection,” she said. Other countries, like China, have created synergies between the private sector and the government to implement 5G technology.

 

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst