A Chinese start-up called Neolix kicked off mass production of its self-driving delivery vehicles on Friday - saying it's the first company globally to do so - and has lined up giants such as JD.Com and Huawei Technologies as customers. Neolix expects to deliver 1000 of the vehicles, which resemble tiny vans, within the first year as it broadens out.
The implications are potentially huge: billionaire Jack Ma predicts there will be 1billion deliveries a day in China within a decade and the commercialisation of the technology could provide lessons for autonomous vehicles carrying passengers. Neolix isn't alone in this space as Silicon Valley’s Nuro raised almost a billion dollars this year and is starting to deliver groceries in Arizona.
“Driverless cars will change the world, just like the shift from the carriage to the automobile,” Neolix founder Yu Enyuan, 45, said in an interview at his office in Beijing. “I have been looking for something that is worth fighting with everything I have and what I am doing now is that.”
Yu has been testing more than 100 of the vehicles in enclosed areas such as Chinese campuses. The vehicles are priced similar to a regular car - a Neolix van costs about $30000 (R432756).