Waymo in China

Waymo, a spin-out Google self-driving project, opened a subsidiary in Shanghai according to the information in China’s National Enterprise Information Publicity System. It was registered in Shanghai’s free trade zone with 3.5 million yuan. Its Chinese name is Huimo (慧摩), a similar pronunciation of its English name.

Waymo’s registration document shows this subsidiary provides the services including business and logistics consultancy, design and testing of self-driving car parts, and related services.

Waymo is a leading L4 self-driving company. However, China local competitors are waiting for its challenge. Baidu’s Apollo, DiDi, and Jingchi are on the list. China has very different road driving conditions and rules with the United States. The real-world traffic data will help Waymo do the better optimization for China market. Before that, it also needs a self-driving vehicle road test license in Shanghai. Only Beijing and Shanghai allow the licensed self-driving cars have road tests. Beijing opened the application in Dec 2017. Shanghai was from Mar 2018. Before that, all self-driving test cars are only allowed driving in some closed section areas.

Waymo also wants to expand its use cases including the buses and express delivery car. Waymo launched a test service in Phoenix that transport the rider to and from Walmart to collect their groceries order in Walmart. [1] Avis Budget Group is another business partner. They try to use Waymo vehicles to pick up their customers in the airport in Chandler near Phoenix. [2] All these services aim to cover the short driverless rides.

Google quitted China’s search engine market in 2010, who is working actively to re-enter in the country. Google started a project called Dragonfly in accordance with Chinese government censorship, which caused a great of opposition even inside the company. [3]

Just in Jun, Google invested $550 million in JD.com, China’s largest online retailer. [4] Google has started a wide cooperation with Chinese companies.

Although some sources said the subsidiary will be working on building out a supplier network not launching a service in Shanghai [5], we will see the whole picture in the future.

[1] Growing Waymo’s Partnerships in Metro Phoenix
[2] Waymo Teams Up With Walmart, Avis and Others for Short Driverless Rides
[3] Here’s the Letter 1,400 Google Workers Sent Leadership in Protest of Censored Search Engine for China
[4] Google to invest $550 million in China e-commerce giant JD.com  
[5] Waymo opens subsidiary in China 

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