Alibaba Group Holding has integrated its autonomous driving research and development (R&D) team from the DAMO Academy into the company's Cainiao logistics division. This is Alibaba’s most recent step in a corporate restructure that was announced earlier this year.
DAMO, the fundamental research institution of Alibaba. will no longer oversee autonomous vehicle lab, which will instead function as part of Cainiao, Alibaba's worldwide logistics network.
With its flagship robovan, Little Donkey, Damo has been supplying Cainiao's last-mile delivery requirements for six years, transporting food, restaurant, and e-commerce orders. The self-driving, Nuro-like van had made more than 10 million deliveries cumulatively as of June 2022, the company recorded at the time.
According to a Reuters report earlier this month, Cainiao, which is largely regarded as a likely candidate for a public listing, is looking to raise up to US$2 billion in an IPO in Hong Kong next year. The city's IPO filing for Freshippo, Alibaba's supermarket brand, is also in the processes.
The structural shift indicates that Alibaba needs to monetize its investment in autonomous driving, which is a famously capital-intensive field, with increased urgency.
Alibaba was reorganized into six independently-run entities with distinct CEOs and boards of directors, and each unit was given responsibility for profit and loss in March, when Alibaba announced its largest-ever corporate restructuring.