China’s ridesharing giant Didi opens a self-driving car lab in the US

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Didi’s ever-expanding ridesharing empire might be centered in China, but it’s still willing to head overseas to advance its goals. The company is opening an AI lab in Mountain View, California for the sake of its self-driving car ambitions.


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This doesn’t mean that Didi’s about to launch in the US (outside of its Lyft partnership), of course — rather, it’s to attract talent in a hotbed of autonomous driving research. And in at least one case, it appears to have scored a coup. The company has hired Uber’s Charlie Miller to head up its safety and security work on self-driving cars. He’ll make sure that intruders can’t compromise your ride, to put it succinctly. Miller rose to fame in 2015 when he hacked a journalist’s vehicle from a laptop 10 miles away in a pre-arranged stunt to demonstrate vulnerabilities within the automotive industry.


Didi has also scored some engineers from Alphabet’s Waymo, one of which (Jia Zhaoyin) will be a principal engineer.
It wasn’t a secret that Didi was interested in driverless cars, but the creation of the lab makes it official. And setting up shop in the US is as much a declaration of its commitment to self-driving tech as it is a practical move.
Didi maybe relatively late to the party, but it’s determined to catch up quickly.


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