Lei Jun, the founder of leading Chinese smartphone and consumer electronics company Xiaomi, revealed the company’s progress on developing an autonomous driving system. Xiaomi officially announced its plans to venture into the car making industry in March 2021, and invested 10 billion yuan on the project, with expectations of pouring 10 billion USD more in the next 10 years.
According to Lei Jun, Xiaomi has chose autonomous driving as its direction for entering the carmaking industry, and is using self-developed full-stack algorithms.
Xiaomi has invested 3.3 billion yuan for the first phase of research and development in the field of autonomous driving, and has set up an R&D team of over 500 people, while promoting the medium and long-term industrial layout in the field of autonomous driving through wholly-owned mergers and acquisitions and industrial investment in enterprises.
In last August, Xiaomi acquired autonomous driving company Deepmotion, for around 77.37 million USD, to “enhance the technological competitiveness” of its electric vehicle business.
A demonstration of Xiaomi’s autonomous driving technology was shown for the first time yesterday. In the video, a test car equipped with Xiaomi self-driving technology can realize functions such as one-touch summoning, turnaround, bypassing of parked vehicles, bypassing of accident vehicles, traffic bypass, valet parking, avoiding pedestrians, etc.
At the end of the video, a charging robot was shown as a surprise. After the vehicle parks into place, a robotic arm automatically stretched out to charge to vehicle. The function would further enhance the autonomous driving experience.
Xiaomi's self-driving technology has entered the first testing phase, and plans to test 140 vehicles in multiple locations in China. The company says it aims to become one of the industry’s leaders in 2023.
"Because this technology is particularly complicated, our time frame is tight. Various Xiaomi R&D units have contributed to the project, including Xiaomi AI lab, XiaoAi team and Xiaomi camera department's team," says Lei, who added that Xiaomi cars might appear rudimentary comparing to others in the industry, but the current results have far exceed his personal expectation, given it was done in such a short period of time.