Hyundai, in collaboration with unveiled BotRide in California. Source: Hyundai

Hyundai, in collaboration with unveiled BotRide in California. Source: Hyundai

Another Chinese autonomous car leader breaks into the US market

AUTONOMOUS cars and trucks are taking over the world with China and the US constantly looking for a way to gain an edge on the other.

However, over the past 12 months, it seems as though more companies in China are exploring opportunities in the US in order to meet the demand (and growing urgency) in western markets.

Most recently, Chinese autonomous technology giant — funded by Sequoia Capital China, IDG Capital, Legend Capital, among others — partnered with South Korean automobile giant Hyundai and urban mobility platform Via announced the launch of a public trial in Irvine, California.

The trial uses electric SUVs from Hyundai and will be open to the public from November 4, 2019, to January 31, 2020. It will be offered as a ride-sharing service during this period.

The service, dubbed BotRide, will feature a fleet of 10 Hyundai electric SUVs fitted with’s autonomous technology during the initial phase.

“The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students. The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment,” said Hyundai Motor Company’s Head of Business Development, Strategy, and Technology Christopher Chang.

“We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimize the customer experience. BotRide is another example of Hyundai’s ongoing efforts to actively build expertise in mobility technology as well as the company’s commitment to providing more user-friendly mobility services to customers.”

In line with trials launched in other parts of the world, including in Singapore, the BotRide vehicles will have a driver inside the vehicle with the power to take over operations if the need arises.

The ride-hailing service will come with its own app ‘BotRide’ which will be available to users on Android as well as Apple devices.

“Through BotRide, Hyundai is leveraging cutting-edge autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies to introduce a new, safe, and convenient form of transportation to the public,” said Hyundai Motor America Advanced Product Strategy Manager Daniel Han.

“The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business. In addition to the technology partners powering BotRide, the broader city and community ecosystem have also played an important role in making BotRide possible.”

According to Han, the BotRide pilot can also serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to truly enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future.

The launch of this trial is just another feather in the cap of Chinese AI and autonomous technology companies demonstrating the need for partnerships between the US and China to accelerate the arrival of new technologies.