China’s Tencent is one of Tesla’s biggest investors, with a 5% stake, and one of the most enthusiastic (legitimate) hackers of its cars’ security. And now, according to a new report, Tencent (tctzf) has developed its own driverless car technology.
We already knew Tencent was working on such technology—it announced a partnership with Guangzhou Auto in September, with this being one of the focuses of the deal.
However, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Tencent has advanced as far as prototyping its own autonomous driving system.
Tencent is best known for its extremely popular WeChat messaging app, but it is also an investor in players such as ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing—which has its own autonomous driving lab in the U.S.—and Tesla (tsla). Now, it seems to be pushing more aggressively into the same self-driving car space that’s also attracted another Chinese web giant, Baidu.
Baidu (bidu) said in September that it was investing $1.5 billion into its own development of autonomous car technology, in order to compete with the likes of Tesla. And Baidu and Tencent are both investors in Nio, a Chinese startup that aims to launch an autonomous car in the U.S. by 2020.
The big question now is where Tencent’s own homegrown autonomous driving system fits into this web of investment and research, and whether it will provide a boost or competition for its various partners and investees’ own efforts.
Bloomberg’s piece gave little information about Tencent’s system, other than to say the prototype was being tested internally. The article quoted unnamed sources who were “familiar with the matter.”