DeepRoute.ai, a Chinese autonomous driving startup, announced on Tuesday that it has received $300 million in Series B Funding round from investors including Alibaba to expand its test fleet and develop technologies such as self-driving trucks.
Other investors in the fundraising round included Greater China-focused tech investor Jeneration Capitaland Chinese manufacturer Geely. Previous investors like Fosun RZ Capital, Yunqi Partners, and Glory Ventures also participated in the round.
The Shenzhen-based start-up creates hardware and software-based self-driving solutions for cars. DeepRoute.ai operates a fleet of self-driving taxis, some of which are managed by partners such as ride-hailing company CaoCao and automaker Dongfeng Motors.
DeepRoute.ai, which is testing cars in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Wuhan, said in an official interview that the funding will be used to expand the fleet of its test Robo-taxis to 150 by the end of the year from the current 70. DeepRoute.ai will operate half of the robotaxis, while its partners will operate the other half. The startup will also increase its personnel from 400 to 600 by the end of the year, including in-vehicle safety drivers.
The participation of Alibaba in the investment round demonstrates the desire of China’s digital behemoths to get a foothold in the autonomous car space. Alibaba has already invested in AutoX, a Chinese autonomous driving car start-up, and is sponsoring Xpeng, an electric vehicle manufacturer.
Alibaba has also formed a joint venture with China’s SAIC Motor to develop internet-connected automobiles based on Alibaba’s AliOS operating systems. Alibaba also has a logistics division named Cainiao that is working on self-driving trucks.
DeepRoute.ai is an international self-driving technology startup dedicated to enhancing urban logistics and robotaxis, led by CEO Maxwell Zhou. Long-term goals for the firm include creating medium-duty vehicles for urban logistics and reducing shipping and freight delivery transit times. Solutions such as DeepRoute-INJOY will offer the startup with sustainable and successful income streams in the future. Meanwhile, DeepRoute will continue to form and maintain relationships with major manufacturers in order to provide the public with safe and novel riding experiences.
Since its inception in early 2019, DeepRoute.ai has partnered with Dongfeng Motors, Cao Cao Chuxing, and Xiamen Ocean Gate Container Terminal Co., Ltd in China, and has conducted automated driving testing and demonstrations in Shenzhen, Wuhan, Hangzhou, and Xiamen.
DeepRoute officially debuted its robotaxi service in Shenzhen in July, 2021. It prides itself on being Shenzhen’s first robotaxi service company to do so. DeepRoute-piloted automobiles have successfully traveled 1 million kilometers in four cities across the world up to that time. Earlier in June, DeepRoute acquired a Passenger Carry Permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and is already operating in Wuhan and Shenzhen with over 1.2 million miles safely traveled on public highways.