In the mobility space, the automotive industry is actively looking at ways to bring driverless technology to life and on the roads as soon as possible. That’s primarily why we’re witnessing a steadily growing interest in autonomous mobility companies.
One such example is Beijing-based Idriverplus, a developer of commercial autonomous driving solutions, that raised more than RMB 100 million (approximately USD 14.6 million) earlier in 2020.
Auto Futures caught up with CEO, Dr. Zhang Dezhao, to find out more about the company and its most recent financing round.
“Idriverplus Technology has completed Series C1 round of financing in May 2020 for tens of millions of dollars, which has been invested by HOPU-Arm Innovation Fund, an international private equity fund co-founded by Hopu Investment and Arm Holdings. Idriverplus technology will continue to be an excellent supplier of autonomous driving brains, continue to empower various industries, and realise the commercial application of autonomous driving fields,” says Dezhao.
“The development strategy of Idriverplus is different from other companies. We’ve divided the company into three division to implement this strategy. First, our Autonomous Driving Species-Car division, whose target is to fulfil the most basic of needs of protecting lives. It has a very large market demand, and the market is not sensitive to the price. Second is our Low-Speed Autonomous Driving Vehicle division, that aims to free people from heavy and repetitive labour, thus freeing them to pursue a more convenient and fast humanized living environment and infrastructure. Finally, our Smart Transportation Division that strives to fulfil the spiritual needs, provide services and create a private space experience.
“The core competitiveness of autonomous driving technology is the iterative cost and speed of data and algorithms. There are two ways to obtain data. One is to build our own fleet, while the other is to launch products and collect data through customers, similar to Tesla. The amount of data showed accelerating growth. Idriverplus is the second model, forming a positive cycle of data, scenarios and business models,” Dezhao adds, speaking about what sets the company apart from the other players in the market.
Currently, Idriverplus’ product portfolio comprises four main products – autonomous driving solutions (brain of autonomous driving), L4 Robotaxi, L4 autonomous driving sweeper scrubber and vacuum and L4 autonomous driving delivery vehicle.
Explaining the different products to me, Dezhao says: “L4 robotaxi or XINGJI is a Level4 autonomous driving solution launched by Idriverplus, complete with key technologies including multi-sensor fusion, HD mapping and localisation, object recognition and trajectory prediction, autonomous decision-making and trajectory planning and longitudinal and lateral coordinated control. XINGJI is aimed at realizing autonomous driving on expressways and complex urban roads.
“Autonomous driving sweeper Woxiaobai is integrated with LiDAR, cameras, ultrasonic sensor and other sensors. It can realise the totally autonomous driving and free itself from manual operation to undertake cleaning watering and garbage collection on the road surfaces automatically. It has reduced the labour cost with efficiency and intelligence.”
“Finally, WOBIDA Autonomous driving logistics vehicle has been applied to the delivery of cargo in unmanned logistics service. The last mile intelligent delivery has been realised, improving the efficiency as well as the convenient delivery experience,” he explains.
We are always focused on the research and development of the core technology of autonomous driving.
Idriverplus’ autonomous technology has been seamlessly implemented across diverse applications like autonomous sweeping, autonomous deliveries as well autonomous driving, as well as across different sectors like special vehicles, security vehicles, buses, large-scale sanitation vehicles, among others.
I was curious to understand how difficult it is to modify the technology for different use cases and to meet varying requirements.
To this, Dezhao replies: “Although there are many landing scenarios and rich products, we are always focused on the research and development of the core technology of autonomous driving. Our AVOS has strong adaptability and can empower all walks of life. Our products are based on the AVOS (same autonomous driving brain), which can realise autonomous driving in open roads, semi-enclosed parks and indoor environments. We have realised rapid adaptation to multiple scenarios.”
One product that has garnered a lot of interest is XINGJI, a Level4 autonomous driving solutions launched by Idriverplus. According to Dezhao, this solution is complete with key technologies including multi-sensor fusion, HD mapping and localisation, object recognition and trajectory prediction, autonomous decision-making and trajectory planning and longitudinal and lateral coordinated control.
XINGJI is aimed at realising autonomous driving on expressways and complex urban roads.
Going Driverless in the Post-Covid era
Idriverplus has been collaborating with and sourcing LiDAR sensors from Velodyne LiDAR. I asked Dezhao to explain the significance of this partnership.
“On July 24, 2019, the signing ceremony of the strategic cooperation between Idriverplus and Velodyne LiDAR was held in Silicon Valley, USA. The two companies have reached an agreement on more competitive lidar prices and deeper cooperation in L3/L4 passenger cars. We will integrate their advantages in the market in terms of brand, customers, resources, and social influence and establish long-term cooperation.”
“Idriverplus is Velodyne’s major customer in China. Relying on the professionalism and quality of Velodyne Lidar, Idriverplus’ autonomous driving vehicles can show very good status to the public,” he adds.
I also spoke to Anand Gopalan, CEO of Velodyne LiDAR, to throw some light on the partnership, to which he says: “Velodyne and Idriverplus have a long-standing and deeply entrenched relationship. We are pleased that Velodyne’s powerful lidar solutions are helping Idriverplus deploy trailblazing autonomous vehicles in communities and on roadways today. We are both innovation companies that are delivering autonomous solutions now with the goal of advancing safe mobility and smart cities in China and around the world.”
As our conversation drew to an end, I asked Dezhao whether Idriverplus has seen an increase in demand for products like WOXIAOBAI, the autonomous delivery vehicle, in the post-Covid era.
According to Dezhao, there has definitely ben an increase in the number of international orders. “Our product has already entered Germany, Japan, Israel, Russia market successfully, and we have lots of projects in Europe and Middle East and South-east Asian countries,” he concludes.