Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings has led a USD300 million funding round for Shenzhen-based autonomous driving startup DeepRoute.ai.
Other investors in the funding round include venture capital firm Jeneration Capital, Chinese carmaker Geely as well as some previous investors, DeepRoute.ai said in a statement.
Deeproute said it would use the fresh capital to boost research and development of its self-driving technologies and strengthen collaboration with auto makers. It will also double its fleet of test robotaxis to 150 by the end of this year from the current 70 and expand its workforce from the current number of 400 to 600 by the end of this year,
The investment is the latest Alibaba has made in the emerging automotive space. Previously, Alibaba has funded self-driving startup AutoX and electric vehicle maker Xpeng.
Founded in 2019, DeepRoute.ai collaborates with carmaker Dongfeng Motor to develop its self-driving technologies, it has so far completed more than 2 million kilometers of safe testing mileages, carrying out autonomous car tests in urban areas of Shenzhen, Wuhan and Hangzhou. DeepRoute also obtained a Passenger Carry Permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in June this year.
The investment comes at the time when technology companies invested billions of dollars into autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many see as the future of mobility.
In January, Autox announced to open fully driverless robotaxi service to the public in the Pingshan area of Shenzhen.
In May, Baidu has commenced operation of fully driverless robotaxi services in Beijing’s Shougang park, making it the first Chinese company to launch commercial robotaxi service in the capital city.
WeRide, which count Nissan Motor as major backer, said this month it would develop self-driving vans, Pony.ai said earlier it would also develop autonomous trucks.
DeepRoute has autonomous driving solutions for both light duty trucks and robotaxis. In July, DeepRoute launched its robotaxi service to Shenzhen residents, joining the first batch of Chinese tech firms to offer commercial autonomous vehicles in the Chinese cities.