Waymo Opens Subsidiary in Shanghai to Test Self-Driving Technology
【Summary】Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent company Alphabet, has opened an office in Shanghai as it looks to push into China. The new subsidiary will design and test autonomous vehicle products, parts, supply chain management, logistics and other related services, according to the the filing.
Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent company Alphabet, has opened an office in Shanghai as it looks to push into China. The new subsidiary will design and test autonomous vehicle products, parts, supply chain management, logistics and other related services, according to the the filing.
Waymo is listed as the only shareholder of the Shanghai subsidiary. Kevin Vosen, Waymo's general counsel, is listed as chairman of the new company, while Waymo CEO John Krafcik and other executives are listed as senior representatives.
Waymo is a world leader in autonomous driving technology. Since launching its first self-driving cars in 2009, the company's fleet has logged over 8 million miles of testing on public roads.
The Shanghai-based subsidiary is named Huimo Business Consulting with registered capital of RMB3.5 million (US$508,854). The filing was dated May 22, but was disclosed this week by a Shanghai-based state media outlet.
Google has been working to expand its China presence eight years after it abandoned the world's largest internet market over concerns about government censorship and the alleged hacking of its Gmail email accounts.
Last month, Google was reportedly in talks with Tencent and Chinese cloud computing service provider Inspur Group to bring its Google cloud services to mainland China.
In late July, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information visited several tech companies located in Silicon Valley, including Google, Baidu USA, Synopsys, Tesla, Pony ai. and Intel. During the visit, the Shanghai governmental delegation invited executives to take part in an artificial intelligence conference hosted by the Chinese city and to expand operations there.
Most recently, Google was testing project "Dragonfly," a mobile version of its search engine that would adhere to China's strict censorship policies, people familiar with the matter said. But launching a search engine hinges on the approval of Chinese authorities. The plan has met with internal resistance from Google employees over restricting users in China from seeing web pages that discuss human rights, democracy, and free speech.
Waymo's push into China will also likely be met with resistance from Baidu, Chinese search-engine giant often called the ‘Google of China'. Baidu has its own ambitious plans for autonomous driving. Last year Baidu announced Apollo, an open autonomous driving platform with over 100 industry partners collaborating together to advance and accelerate the development of self-driving technology.
Another challenge Waymo faces is that testing of its self-driving vehicles requires high-definition maps of Chinese roads. The only companies licensed to provide advanced mapping technology are China-based Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Alibaba and Tencent are separately backing other Chinese autonomous driving projects, so Waymo will most likely require some type of collaboration agreement with one of these companies.
Waymo will also have to obtain a license for testing its driverless vehicles in China, where Chinese road conditions are much more complicated than in the U.S., with more pedestrians, motorcycles, electric mopeds and bicycles.
According to a report earlier this year from global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, China will become the world's largest market for autonomous cars, with revenue from cars and related services expected to exceed US$500 billion by 2030. The firm predicted that by 2030, total sales volume of autonomous vehicles is expected to reach US$230 billion and autonomous vehicle-based services will generate a gross booking of around US$260 billion.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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