On August 20th, some media reported that NIO (WEILAI) Silicon Valley Branch is currently shrinking its scale, at the same time, it is considering merging the autopilot business unit with the autopilot company that was split from the DiDi (an online Taxi APP in China), and Li Bin, the founder of NIO, has already conducted several rounds of negotiations on this plan with DiDi. On the same day, DiDi responded that there is no relevant merger plan and will continue to cooperate in depth with the automotive industry.
NIO has five R&D centers in the world, the Silicon Valley R&D Center is mainly engaged in the development of autonomous driving technology. According to previous news reports, the number of employees in the Silicon Valley R&D Center has reached more than 500, as far as autonomous driving technology is concerned, the development route of NIO is to jump directly from L2 to L4. At present, the NIO ES8 with the function of ADAS (High Driving Assistance System) is the L2 automatic driving capability, which can realize adaptive cruise, high-speed automatic assisted driving, and automatic parking.
In March 2019, Li Bin revealed in an interview with the media that NIO is developing the second-generation platform. In this platform, NIO will skip L3-level autopilot and directly develop L4. Moreover, Li Bin also said that it can basically achieve L4 automatic driving in 3 years.
Recently, one of the biggest moves of DiDi is to officially upgrade its autopilot business unit to an independent company, The CTO of DiDi Zhang Bo is the CEO of the new company. The newly established autopilot company will focus on autopilot R&D, product application and related business development in the future, integrating DiDi ‘s platform, resources and original technology advantages, continue to increase investment in core technology R&D, and further expand the cooperation of upstream and downstream industry chain..
At the time of the establishment of the new company, Zhang Bo said, “I hope to further develop strategic cooperation with automakers and industrial partners to jointly promote the commercialization of driverless technology.” It is not impossible for the NIO Autopilot business unit to really merge with DiDi Automated Driving Company. Automated driving technology do need to be cross-border integration, and concentrate on strength to do big things. The form of “grouping” can save resources and reduce research and development costs, and cost is also one of the keys to commercialization.