Didi Chuxing, the Chinese-based Uber rival, has opened a research lab in Mountain View, California to focus on AI-based security and intelligent driving technologies.

Didi ChuxingDiDi Labs expects to attract some of the top engineering talents in the world as the ride hail industry gears up for the eventual launch of a fleet of self-driving cars for hire.

"Sweeping changes are taking place in the global transportation and automobile industries. As the world's leading mobility platform, DiDi has invested in five industry leaders around the world. Building on rich data and fast-evolving AI analytics, we will be working with cities and towns to build intelligent transportation ecosystems for the future,” said Cheng Wei, founder, chairman and CEO of Didi Chuxing. "As we strive to bring better services to broader communities, DiDi's international vision now extends to building the best-in-class international research network, advancing the global transportation revolution by leveraging innovative resources. The launch of DiDi Labs is a landmark in creating this global nexus of innovation," he added.

DiDi Labs will be led by Dr. Fengmin Gong, vice president of DiDi Research Institute. Dozens of leading data scientists and researchers have joined the team, including Charlie Miller, one of the world's foremost automobile security experts. Current projects span the areas of cloud-based security, deep learning, human-machine interaction, computer vision and imaging, as well as intelligent driving technologies.

Meanwhile, DiDi Labs will work in tandem with the broader DiDi research network to advance its global strategy, apply research findings to products and services, and help cities develop smart transportation infrastructure. DiDi expects to rapidly expand its US-based team of scientists and engineers over the course of the year.

Bob Zhang, DiDi's CTO, called for top minds in AI and intelligent driving research to join the company at the recent launch of the DiDi-Udacity Self-Driving Car Challenge at Udacity's Intersect conference in Mountain View. The challenge is the world's first open-source self-driving competition in which player teams are invited to create an Automated Safety and Awareness Processing Stack (ASAPS) to improve general safety metrics for human and intelligent driving scenarios based on real data. Five finalist teams will have the opportunity to run their code on Udacity's self-driving cars, compete for a grand prize of USD 100,000, and work with DiDi's intelligent driving team.

"In the next decade, DiDi will play a leading role in innovation at three layers: optimization of transportation infrastructure, introduction of new energy vehicles and intelligent driving systems, and a shift in human-automotive relationship from ownership to shared access," said Zhang. "DiDi calls for enterprising minds to join us to solve the world's transportation and environmental challenges."

Didi Chuxing is the world's leading mobile transportation platform. The company offers a full range of mobile tech-based mobility options for nearly 400 million users across more than 400 Chinese cities, including taxi hailing, private car hailing, Hitch (social ride-sharing), DiDi Chauffeur, DiDi Bus, DiDi Minibus, DiDi Test Drive, DiDi Car Rental and DiDi Enterprise Solutions. As many as 20 million rides were completed on DiDi's platform on a daily basis in
October 2016, making DiDi the world's second largest online transaction platform next only to Taobao. DiDi acquired Uber China in August 2016.

As a practitioner in the sharing economy initiative, DiDi is committed to working with communities and partners to solve China's transportation, environmental and employment challenges using big data-driven deep-learning algorithms that optimize resource allocation. By continuously improving the user experience and creating social value, Didi strives to build an open, efficient, collaborative, and sustainable transportation ecosystem. In 2016, Didi was included in Fortune's Change the World list, and named one of the World's 50 Smartest Companies by MIT Technology Review. DiDi is a Davos Global Growth Company.