China’s WeRide to develop its first self-driving cargo van

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
  • Follow author on
Representational Image

WeRide, a Chinese autonomous driving startup, will start developing self-driving cargo vans for urban logistics service, with China-based automobile manufacturer Jiangling Motors (JMC) and express delivery company ZTO Express.

The deal was signed by Mr. Tony Han, founder and CEO of WeRide, Mr. Wenhui Jin, executive vice president of JMC, and Mr. Renqun Jin, vice president of ZTO. As part of the agreement, WeRide and JMC will design purpose-built models of the Robovan for mass production on JMC’s assembly lines, and ZTO will put it to good use in their urban logistics service. A pilot test will take place near the airport in Guangzhou city, China.

The Guangzhou-based startup is currently pursuing a level 4 autonomous standard, in which the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention. The company is now testing autonomous passenger cars and mini-buses.

The startup, backed by Nissan Motor, claims that its van already has Level 4 autonomous capabilities, which the Society of Automotive Engineers describes as a car that takes the wheel without human interaction in most cases, however, a human still has the option to manually override it.

WeRide already has two years of experience testing out its Robotaxi service with the public, on that basis the startup is confident that its Robovan will be able to handle itself in different traffic scenarios, from innercity to tunnels to highways, according to ZTO.

Currently, automakers and technology firms around the world are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many consider the future of mobility.

Related: Xiaomi officially registers its electric vehicle unit