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China’s Uber for Truck Manbang Group to Launch L4 Truck Fleet with PlusAI
COVID-19 and China
Trailer truck passing on road during daytime. Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

China’s Uber for Truck Manbang Group (满帮), also known as Full Truck Alliance, plans to launch the first fleet of Level 4 autonomous trucks worldwide, cooperated with PlusAI (智加科技), a Silicon Valley driverless truck startup valued at almost USD 1 billion. The company announced the partnerships in China International Big Data Industry Expo in 2015 in Guizhou, a southwest city in China.

PlusAI aims to create a fleet with one hundred-plus driverless cargo vehicles cooperated with Manbang. The fully operational driverless truck fleet needs more than just the proper autonomous driving technology, it also needs appropriate scenarios in smart logistics and fleets safety management operation experience.

“Driverless cargo vehicles fleet is the inflection point of the application of autonomous driving, which shapes the future of artery transportation, ” PlusAI’s founder and CEO LIU Wanqian (刘万千) says.

Manbang was created by the merger of Huochebang and Yunmanman in 2017, both of which matches merchants and truckers for transporting cargo. The deal ended the two companies was and built the biggest truck-hailing company that signs up to 70% trucks running on China’s arterial roads and 80% of logistics firms. It recalls us that DiDi Chuxing got the dominant position in ride-hailing after the merger of Didi and Kuaidi.

Based in Beijing with an R&D center in Silicon Valley, PlusAI raised an undisclosed amount of money from China Growth Capital and Manbang in March 2018. Sequoia Capital led another round of funding last November. Manbang expanded into the sector of self-driving truck fleets by reaching a deepened agreement with PlusAI after investing in the company. Both companies have agreed to cooperate on high-definition map data collection and large-scale driverless commercial fleets.

China's autonomous driving startups enter the driverless car race, most of which are conducting road testing in Shanghai, Suzhou, Guangzhou, and Beijing. They are exploring potential partners to apply their technology in actual scenarios in reality. For instance, driverless startup Pony.ai started its robo-taxi plan in Guangzhou this January. TuSimple, PlusAI's closest rival based in Beijing, announced it is getting a chance to provide its technology for the United States Postal Service (USPS). The company also aims at adding its autonomous driving trucks to 50 by June in the U.S.

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