Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi’s push to become a major autonomous driving force is gathering pace after it revealed it is currently running tests on 140 vehicles across the country.
The news, announced by CEO Lei Jun said on Thursday, marks the latest benchmark for Xiaomi, which committed itself last year to entering the competitive EV sector and challenging established brands and younger tech companies.
Speaking at a livestreamed company event, Lei said the company had 500 staff devoted solely to developing autonomous driving technology for its upcoming car and had put 3.3 billion yuan ($490 million) towards the initiative.
At the event, Lei also unveiled a humanoid robot dubbed CyberOne, weighing 52kg and measuring 177cm tall, although it was not ready for mass production.
Many other Chinese companies are investing in self-driving technology, including ridehailing giant Didi Global and search engine provider Baidu Inc.
Earlier this week, the latter company became the first firm in China to obtain permits to operate fully-driverless taxi on open roads.
Lei Jun co-founded Xiaomi in 2010 and quickly turned it into one of the top-selling Android smartphone brands, both in China and later globally.
In 2021, Lei announced that Xiaomi would enter the electric vehicle market, a foray he said would mark his last major entrepreneurial endeavour.
The company committed to bringing its cars to mass production in the first half of 2024. Earlier this year the company started construction on its first auto factory in Beijing.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara