China’s Didi Chuxing opens lab in US to develop AI and driver-less technology

09 Mar 2017


China Uber rival Didi Chuxing is looking for US talent in AI and self-driving vehicles. To push its plans in the sectors, the company has officially opened its US research lab in Moutain View, California.

The facility itself is not new, commentators point out. TechCruch had reported last September that Didi had two experienced security experts based in the US - Dr Fengmin Gong and Zheng Bu to lead the centre, which worked closely with another China-based facility that opened in late 2015.

The facility would also have on board former Uber researcher Charlie Miller who shot to fame in 2015, when he hacked a journalist's vehicle from a laptop 10 miles away. The stunt had been pre-planned to demonstrate vulnerabilities within the automotive industry (See: Cybersecurity experts hijack Jeep running at 30 mph).

"Excited to announce I'm joining Didi Research America to lead the safety and security of their autonomous transportation systems," Miller said in a Twitter post. "My job is to make sure the assisted driving and autonomous systems developed and used by Didi are resistant to external attacks and threats."

According to commentators, Miller's defection marked the first major poach that Didi had made from Uber, in the self-driving car space where Uber has gained a significant presence.

In its statement about the opening of the Mountain View lab Didi did not reveal financial details.

Didi has also joined hands with online education service Udacity. Udacity and Didi have announced programming competition to identify top talent in AI development. Udacity was founded by Google Self-Driving Car chief Sebastian Thrun.

Teams competing in the open-source self-driving contest would be required to develop the best solutions for improving safety in simulated driving scenarios.

The top five teams would test their solutions on Udacity's self-driving cars and the winner would collect a $100,000 prize.

According to commentators, the contest would also serve to identify potential recruits as, the market was highly competitive with experienced engineers having plenty of choice among employers.

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