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SoftBank led $500M investment in Didi in Chinas biggest autonomous driving round

The race to automate vehicles on Chinas roads is heating up. Didi, the Uber of China, announced this week an outsized investment of over $500 million in its freshly minted autonomous driving subsidiary. Leading the round the single largest fundraising round in Chinas autonomous driving sector is its existing investor Softbank, the Japanese telecom giant and startup benefactor that has also backed Uber.
The proceeds came through Softbanks second Vision Fund, which was reportedly lagging in fundraising as its Fund I recorded massive losses in part due to the collapsing valuation of WeWork.
As Chinas largest ride-hailing provider with mountains of traffic data, Didi clearly has an upper hand in developing robotaxis, which could help address driver shortage in the long term. But it was relatively late to the field. In 2018, Didi ranked eighth in kilometers of autonomous driving tests carried out in Beijing, far behind search giant Baidu which accounted for over 90% of the total mileage that year.
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