Guangzhou Automotive (GAC) says it is planning to work closely with Chinese ride-hailing app Didi and Chinese tech giant Huawei, especially on autonomous vehicle technologies.

By pooling resources, data, and scientific research, GAC and the two tech firms say they are ‘excited to work together on the future of the automobile industry’.

GAC has a long history of cooperation with Didi, having held a stake in the company for years, and signing an extensive bilateral cooperation deal in 2019 agreeing to work together on vehicle promotion and customization, driverless travel, intelligent charging and refueling technologies.

Many of China’s taxis are made by GAC, meaning that the two companies’ work is closely intertwined: knowledge of and improvements to automobile technology is highly useful to Didi, and GAC benefits from access to Didi’s mountains of data, it says.

A telecomms specialist, Huawei regularly produces technological advances in fields such as voice and facial recognition, IoT connectivity, “smart” appliances, cameras and charging technology.

Having cooperative access to Huawei’s research and technology gives GAC a strong edge in the production of world-class in-car systems, the company says.

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GAC and its two tech partners are working on “Level 4” autonomous vehicles, which can operate almost entirely without input from humans (current driver-assist mechanisms are classed as Level 2 autonomy).

Combining resources from the three parties, intelligent L4 vehicles are planned to be mass produced by 2024, utilizing GAC design and manufacturing capabilities and automatic driving software from Didi and Huawei. Didi’s intelligent hardware platform, Didi Gemini, is already being road-tested by several multinational car companies, making Didi now one of the important players in the field of automatic driving, with experts calling the company’s technological achievements in this area “impossible to ignore”.

Didi founder Cheng Wei has predicted that Didi will host more than 1 million autonomous vehicles by 2025.