China’s driverless car startup WeRide acquires autonomous trucking startup MoonX.AI
We covered WeRide back in May after the Chinese driverless car startup raised millions of dollars in new funding that valued the company at a $3.3 billion valuation, making it a member of the global unicorn club.
With millions in the war chest, WeRide announced today that it is buying MoonX.AI, another autonomous trucking startup in China. The acquisition, which is WeRide first, demonstrates the rapid push to commercialize driverless technology in China as competition heats up. The total amount of the deal was not disclosed.
As part of the acquisition agreement, Qingxiong Yang, founder and CEO of MoonX.AI, will become vice president of WeRide and dean of the firm’s research institute. More than 50 engineers from MoonX.AI will join WeRide. WeRide said the acquisition will help the company accelerate its strategic development in autonomous driving technology, product innovation, commercial applications, and talent pool.
Commenting on the acquisition, Tony Han, Founder and CEO of WeRide, said: “We are excited to welcome MoonX.AI to join the WeRide family. Dr. Yang and his highly accomplished team have best-in-class technological expertise, as well as operational know-how in the commercial application of driverless technology. With our shared vision and belief in autonomous driving and the continued expansion of our engineering team, WeRide is committed to accelerating the commercialization of driverless technology and leading the industry to achieve further innovations and breakthroughs.”
MoonX was founded in 2018. The startup provides complete unmanned technology solutions, including high-precision maps, architecture, and other core technologies.
Dr. Yang said: “WeRide has been a leader in the research, development and commercialization of L4 autonomous driving technology and remain committed to the industry’s long-term growth. I am looking forward to bringing my industry experience and working alongside the dedicated team to deliver further breakthroughs and broader applications of fully autonomous driving technology.”
Founded in 2017 by Qing Lu, Tony Han, and Yan Li, WeRide is a mobility startup powered by AI technology and Robotics. WeRide is China’s first-ever L4 autonomous driving technology startup company to obtain strategic investment from a top-tier global automaker alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
The company currently has over 200 employees globally, 70% of whom are R&D engineers. Its core management team all has extensive domestic and international experience in technology development and business operations in both China and the USA at companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Baidu, DiDi, Cisco, and others. In late 2019, WeRide launched a robotaxi project in Guangzhou and has since expanded to allow users to hail a ride through Alibaba’s Amap app.
In July 2020, WeRide became the first in China and second in the world to test fully driverless cars on open roads, after the company obtained China’s first remote-control permit for road tests of Intelligent and Connected Vehicles (ICV).
WeRide’s rivals include other start-ups like Pony.ai and AutoX, both based in south China, as well as technology giant Baidu.