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The terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to WeRide, the two companies plan to build a fleet of tens of thousands of robotaxis in the coming years. WeRide develops level 4 autonomous driving technology.
“WeRide keeps advancing our technology and operation of Robotaxis through strategic cooperation with automakers. With GAC’s automobile manufacturing capability and its scalable autonomous vehicle platform with redundancy systems, the cooperation will enable us to develop the best self-driving vehicles,” Tony Han, founder and CEO of WeRide, said. “Together we will make breakthroughs in the mass production of purpose-built L4 self-driving vehicles and lead the development of Robotaxis.”
WeRide was founded in 2017, and has publicly operated its robotaxi service, with human safety drivers in every car, in Guangzhou, China since November 2019. WeRide said its over two years of experience operating the service makes the company well positioned to set industry benchmarks.
GAC Group is a Chinese automaker founded in 2005, and has collaborated with other automotive brands such as Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi. GAC Group and WeRide hope to provide safe, affordable and green autonomous driving services.
WeRide is working on a new robotaxi model based on GAC Group’s X-Soul, GAC Group’s electronic and electrical architecture.
In April 2021, WeRide received a permit from the California DMV to test driverless robotaxis on public roads in California. It joins companies like Cruise, Waymo and Zoox in having a permit. WeRide has had a permit to test vehicles with safety drivers since 2017.
The permit allows WeRide to test two robotaxis without safety drivers behind the wheel in specific areas of San Jose. The robotaxis aren’t allowed to drive on roads with speed limits higher than 45 MPH, and can only drive during the day in sunlight or light rain or fog.
In June 2021, WeRide raised $310 million in Series C funding. At the time the company was valued at $3.3 billion.