BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese autonomous driving startup DeepRoute.ai said on Tuesday it raised $300 million from investors including e-commerce company Alibaba to expand its test fleet and develop technologies including self-driving trucks.
Other investors in the funding round include Greater China-focused tech investor Jeneration Capital, Chinese automaker Geely and some previous investors, DeepRoute.ai said in a statement. It did not disclose its valuation.
The investment comes as automakers and technology firms are ploughing in billions of dollars into autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many see as the future of mobility.
DeepRoute.ai’s rival WeRide, backed by Nissan Motor, said this month it would develop self-driving vans, while Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor, said earlier it would develop autonomous trucks.
DeepRoute.ai, which is testing vehicles in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Wuhan, will use the funds to double the fleet of its test robo-taxis to 150 by the end of this year from the current 70, its Chief Executive Zhou Guang told Reuters in an interview.
It will also expand its workforce to 600, including in-vehicle safety drivers, by the end of this year from 400 now.
Founded in 2019, DeepRoute.ai collaborates with automaker Dongfeng Motor on self-driving technologies. It also works with Geely’s ride-hailing unit Cao Cao.
DeepRoute.ai will also develop self-driving light duty trucks for urban logistics services, Zhou told Reuters, adding Alibaba would be a big client.
Alibaba said in June it plans to develop self-driving trucks with its logistics subsidiary Cainiao.
(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)