A Year in Review and a Promising, Resilient Future
The world has gone through a lot of uncertainty this past year, and so has the autonomous driving industry. Against all the news of layoffs and shutdowns, and the complaints that the autonomous process takes longer than initially projected, I am confident about the future advancement and growth potential of the industry as a whole.
As an old Chinese saying goes "one can be seen how his adulthood could be when he is still 3 years old, and how his old age could be when he is 7 years old", I think the same could be true for my personal growth as well as the company. As a child, I enjoyed the process of dismantling and assembling electronics. When i was older, i even won a few robotics-related awards in high school. It was during this time that i envisioned how the combination of AI and robotics could do tremendous good for humanity at large.
When we founded DeepRoute.ai, from day one, we knew deep in our minds that in order to make autonomous driving scalable, we needed to make our L4 system affordable, and so automakers mass production would be a sooner reality. All the foundational work these past 3 years has come to fruition: we successfully released Driver 2.0 with a price tag under USD 10,000 in December 2021, and further reduced to USD 3,000 for mass production this April. This is marvelous for a young company like ours. Our achievements come from the accumulation of consistent, day-to-day hard work and I am proud of the team that keeps doing the right thing as they grow in purpose.
As a young startup, we have lofty goals. However, we are firmly grounded with each step we take. As a startup, we are laser focused on the fundementals, survival with our technological edge. Thus, a sustainable business model is important throughout our growth and we should never spread ourselves too thin. Apart from ongoing Robotaxi operations in the CBD areas, we achieved fully driverless pilot run, and our autonomous medium duty trucks are shaping up, helping logistics partners during holidays. Now we also have automakers by our side to jointly build future transportation. Weaving through all these businesses is our core technology, the L4 autonomous driving solution Driver 2.0 that is compatible with multiple models and capable of various L2+ functions. The mass produced consumer vehicles will be on the market with assisted driving functions and able to upgrade to L4 via OTA when legislation and regulations are in place over time.
We won't be able to make these outstanding achievements without our cohesive team. Different departments are like neural networks of the brain. Smooth and multilateral communication keeps the organization invigorated and nimble. The team came up with the idea that our Robotaxi should be made accessible for underserved groups as well by adding voice assistance and help button in the cabin to faciliate the visually impaired. We also organized various volunteer events with multiple associations to support people who have autism, Down's syndrome, dysgnosia, brain paralysis, along with the visually impairment. The colleagues interacted with them to better understand the technological support they needed. Our employees understand that technology is not lines of code without feelings, but ones that have empathy and value to society. I think it's the sense of belonging and accomplishment that earned us "Best Employer" in 2022 by Maimai (Chinese version LinkedIn)
We also carried out co-branded campaigns to raise awareness of how autonomous driving can play a part in daily life by providing Robotaxi services at department stores, Fashion Week, Theatre Festival, Marriage Registration Bureau, kids' favorite milk and candy brand WantWant Group etc. I am always fascinated to observe people's interaction with our Robotaxis at these events. In addition, we feel it is our responsibility to educate the community about the capabilities and liabilities of different levels of autonomous driving.
What's next for DeepRoute.ai? We will turn 4 years old in 2023. The trust and encouragement from partners and customers, along with the milestones and achievements we've reached in 2022, have laid a solid foundation for extended partnerships, continual funding, mass production, technology advancements, and more. Following a global year of uncertainty, I can ensure you there's a lot to look forward to at DeepRoute.ai this upcoming year.