Chinese driverless car firm WeRide launches ‘Robovan’ for deliveries

WeRide’s Robovan, an autonomous car developed for urban logistics. WeRide has partnered with automaker Jiangling Motors and delivery organization ZTO Express, for the Robovan undertaking.


GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese autonomous driving start-up WeRide has partnered with a top carmaker and shipping firm to start a self-driving cargo van.

The strategic partnership concerning WeRide, automaker Jiangling Motors (JMC) and supply firm ZTO Convey, aims to commercialize and mass create the “Robovan” for city logistics.

Nissan-backed WeRide tends to make autonomous driving systems for numerous autos. Considering that 2019, it has been tests robotaxis, or autonomous cabs, on the streets of Guangzhou, China where by it is headquartered. The enterprise opened the assistance to members of the community final calendar year in confined regions of the town.

The organization has also been screening a self-driving bus which it calls the Robobus. The testing of these motor vehicles has assisted it build the Robovan.

“We uncover the boundary involving passenger car or truck and urban logistics automobile is vanishing,” Tony Han, CEO of WeRide, instructed CNBC on Thursday. “It can be an autonomous driving car or truck. If you put a seat there it can provide as a robotaxi vehicle. If you set a cupboard there it is definitely a logistics motor vehicle.”

“These two programs [robotaxi and logistics] can share a technological know-how and equally of them could produce perhaps major amount earnings and financial gain. Why don’t we do both of those?” Han reported.

WeRide will provide the autonomous driving procedure for the Robovan, JMC will tackle production, although ZTO will deploy the cars for their logistics functions.

Han reported the firm will probable established up two or three spots to do Robovan checks and boost the general performance of the automobile. Once those people pilot assignments are completed, the Robovan can be rolled out at a substantial scale. Han declined to provide a timeline for this but reported he expects “tens of thousands” of the vehicles to be deployed in the long term.

WeRide is one particular of China’s autonomous driving get started-ups, valued at all around $3.3 billion. It competes with corporations including Baidu and It has been growing immediately and earlier this yr obtained an autonomous trucking corporation named MoonX.AI. MoonX presently had a marriage with ZTO Convey just before the acquisition.

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Han mentioned WeRide had been doing work with JMC on a exploration challenge because 2019 on logistics. When MoonX was obtained, WeRide managed to bring ZTO Convey on as a spouse.

WeRide’s small business product will revolve all over it being involved in the eventual operation of ZTO’s logistics community utilizing Robovans, instead than exclusively licensing out its technology.

“By carrying out this we can have recurring income and exact same time get feedback to increase the product or service,” Han mentioned.

Chip lack

The international semiconductor shortage is influencing industries throughout the board together with automakers.

WeRide’s autonomous driving programs count on several chips specified the volume of sensors included. Han mentioned it might have an impact on the business when it starts to make vehicles on a larger sized scale.

“Simply because we are using sensor towers, all these sensors and computational models, I believe the lack of these kind of chips may possibly have an effect on our shipping and … our rollout system,” Han mentioned.

He mentioned, that the chip lack will not affect the current job with JMC and ZTO. But he claimed that if the corporations need to have to make 10,000 to 50,000 Robovans then the corporation could see an result.

“We have to get the job done in advance about our offer chain and how to guard our offer chain,” Han stated.