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Tencent is Recruiting for an Autonomous Driving Team in Silicon Valley

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【Summary】Tencent is looking to assemble a autonomous driving team in Silicon Valley. The company posted an advertisement on the business networking site LinkedIn to recruit autonomous driving engineers and researchers in the U.S.

FutureCar Staff    Nov 07, 2018 3:31 PM PT
Tencent is Recruiting for an Autonomous Driving Team in Silicon Valley
author: FutureCar Staff    

Tencent is looking to assemble a autonomous driving team in Silicon Valley, as the Chinese tech giant looks into new areas as its traditional growth engines stall, The Financial Times reported.

Tencent is best known for its widely-used social media platform WeChat, however the company is looking to invest in other areas. The company posted an advertisement on the business networking site LinkedIn to recruit autonomous driving engineers and researchers in the U.S.

The jobs are advertised as working with "cutting edge technologies in machine learning", a key technology for self-driving cars, in its overseas driverless technology development.

"As a Chinese company which is pursuing new markets and growing rapidly in the US, we maintain an entrepreneurial spirit and open mindset," Tencent said in the job posting, which was first reported by Reuters.

Tencent only entered the competitive Chinese autonomous car market last year, when it announced an initiative to team up with Guangzhou Automobile Group to develop internet-connected "smart cars" with driving aided by artificial intelligence.

Last March, Tencent acquired a 5 percent stake in Tesla for $1.78 billion.

Tencent is joining a growing number of Chinese tech firms hunting for global talent. In May 2017, the company announced it would open its first U.S.-based artificial intelligence research laboratory in Seattle. The lab is led by Dong Yu, who was poached from his role as a principal researcher at Microsoft.

Baidu was one of the first Chinese tech giants to open a U.S.-based AI lab in Silicon Valley in 2014. In March of 2017, the company opened its second AI lab in Silicon Valley, further expanding its presence in the region.

Tencent Faces Competition in China

Tencent's research efforts in Silicon Valley may help it gain some ground on its main Chinese rivals. Alibaba, the e-commerce giant, and Baidu, the search engine company considered as the Google of China, are both leading in China's autonomous driving race.

In 2017, Baidu launched its open Apollo autonomous driving platform to accelerate the development of self-driving technology. The company is working with nearly 100 leading industry partners including Daimler, Ford, BMW and Intel to rapidly advance autonomous driving.

Both Alibaba and Baidu are currently conducting self-driving vehicle tests in China. Both companies have received permits to test the technology on public roads in the world's largest automobile market.

"Tencent is the latest among its competitors to come to the battlefield", said Yale Zhang to The Financial Times. Zhang is head of AutoForesight, a Shanghai-based auto consultancy firm.

But despite its relatively late entrance, Tencent is still confident it can be successful in the crowded field.

"Autonomous driving is a must [for tech companies], because this is where these companies' future lies," said Zhang.

According to a recent report by advisory company Navigant Research, General Motors, Volkswagen and Google's self-driving unit Waymo still lead the driverless technology race globally. Baidu was the only Chinese developer of autonomous technology included in research released by the firm in January.

Another challenge for testing self-driving cars in China are the crowded roads. Speaking with The Financial Times, Mr Zhang insisted that China's road conditions "require specific attention and global leaders don't necessarily thrive" in the country.

"Only technologies developed in China can suit the unique traffic here," he added.

Google's self-driving arm Waymo has also set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai with a research team in a push into the crowded fields of self-driving in China.

According to China's minister of industry and information technology, China's market of "smart network vehicles" will be worth more than RMB 100 billion by 2020.


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