Didi Chuxing, the most popular taxi booking platform in China, plans to open a new research centre focusing on artificial intelligence (AI), as it faces rising competition from local newcomers and pushes to expand abroad.
VP Ye Jieping said the new facility will consolidate the company’s research efforts in AI, including deep learning, computer vision and natural language processing technologies for smart transportation, South China Morning Post reported.
Didi currently operates AI labs in Silicon Valley and Beijing. In a statement, the company said it will “expand its research on AI-driven innovation and attract top talents to push the frontiers of global smart traffic technology”.
The announcement comes as at least three rivals entered the taxi booking app market in China. Didi claims an 87 per cent share of the market for such services in the country.
Meituan Dianping, China’s largest on-demand services provider which is backed by Sequoia Capital and Tencent, launched a pilot taxi booking service in Nanjing in 2017 and plans to move into other cities including Shanghai and Beijing this year.
Chinese automaker Geely, owner of the Volvo brand, raised CNY1 billion ($158 million) this month for its electric car booking platform CaoCao Car, which counts about 10 million users across 17 cities, Reuters reported.
Bike sharing platform Mobike, which is also funded by Tencent, announced it will launch its own car sharing platform in Guizhou province, with backing by investors including FAW Car Company.
In December 2017, Didi announced plans to expand its service into neighbouring Taiwan using a franchising model. It also acquired a stake in 99, a Brazilian taxi booking company, and started hiring drivers in Mexico.