Didi Chuxing, the Chinese-hailing company that Apple invested $1 billion in, is opening an artificial intelligence lab in Mountain View, California, reports Recode. The lab will focus on intelligent driving systems and AI-based security for transportation, confirming Didi Chuxing's interest in self-driving vehicles.
The facility, located less than 10 miles from Apple's two Cupertino campuses, is one of Didi Chuxing's first locations outside of China. Its location in Mountain View gives Didi Chuxing a better opportunity to recruit key autonomous driving talent, most of which is concentrated in the Bay Area. Google, Uber, Apple, and hundreds of other startups are nearby.
Didi Chuxing has already poached two high-level employees from Uber and Google. Charlie Miller, the engineer who hacked and stopped a jeep remotely is joining Didi from Uber, while Jia Zhaoyin, a senior software engineer at Waymo, comes from Google.
Apple invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing back in May 2016, and there has been speculation that the investment could lead to a deeper partnership between Didi Chuxing and Apple in the future as Apple is also working on self-driving technology.
Didi Chuxing is the largest ride-hailing company in China, having purchased Uber's Chinese operations in July 2016.
Rumors originally suggested Apple would develop its own autonomous electric vehicle, but Apple shifted focus last summer and is now said to be aiming to create an autonomous driving system that would perhaps allow it to partner with car manufacturers or ride-hailing companies like Didi Chuxing in the future.