China’s Didi Unveils Autonomous Driving Concept Vehicle “Neuron”

On April 13, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi released its first autonomous driving and automatic operation center and autonomous driving concept car named “DiDi Neuron.” The firm also announced that its first mass-produced autonomous driving model is planned to join the Didi ride-hailing network by 2025, achieving all-weather and large-scale mixed operation.

DiDi Neuron concept vehicle

The DiDi Neuron concept vehicle cancels the driver’s seat to maximize passenger space. Compared with ordinary cars, the internal space of the vehicle has increased by 50% under the premise of unchanged total length. The vehicle is also equipped with a large-screen interactive system and an internal mechanical arm that can provide users with services such as carrying luggage, delivering water, and wake-up service.

In terms of hardware, there are 21 cameras and 14 radars installed throughout the entire vehicle. By combining hub motors with unmanned ride-hailing cars, all four tires of the vehicle can flexibly turn, achieving smaller turning radiuses and diagonal driving.

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Earlier this year in China, Didi launched a 24-hour autonomous driving service and built its first automatic operation center, “Huiju Port,” which can automatically meet vehicles’ needs during operations, including automated dispatching orders and returns. Robots there can intelligently complete vehicle washing, charging, maintaining, and detecting faults. It achieves a full automation rate of up to 90%.

Didi’s autonomous driving mass-produced vehicles will be connected to Didi’s operation network by 2025

During this event on April 13, Xing Meng, COO of Didi, revealed new developments in mass production for self-driving technology. According to Meng, the firm is working with new energy vehicle manufacturers on defining and producing self-driving vehicles. They have cooperated in Robotaxi product definition, vehicle platform selection, and cockpit and intelligent drive system development.

Didi also released its hardware R&D capabilities, unveiling two core autonomous driving hardware products for the first time, including “Beiyao Beta” lidar and the three-domain fusion computing platform “Orca.”

Beiyao Beta is China’s first 2K image-level high-precision lidar with performance characteristics such as a super-large field of view angle of up to 120° horizontally and 25.6° vertically, over 3 million high point frequency per second, and more than 512 lines. Didi and Benewake are jointly developing the product.

Orca is Didi’s industry-first mass-produced three-domain fusion computing platform that creates an super central computing unit (SCCU) for vehicles by integrating domains of intelligent driving, cockpit, and networking into one unit. It also means that the trunk of self-driving cars can accommodate another 20-inch suitcase, while improving labor efficiency during vehicle assembly by seven times.

Junqing Wei, head of Didi’s autonomous driving innovation business department, said that they will expand their L4-level autonomous driving passenger car solutions to long-haul logistics freight fields. The firm also released an innovative cargo business named “KargoBot” and a hybrid unmanned solution called “HDS (Hybrid Driverless Solution).” This solution consists of a leading vehicle equipped with an auxiliary driving program driven by a human driver along with multiple L4-level self-driving trucks. It can significantly improve processing capacity in various complex scenarios encountered in commercial operations.