Uber Rival Didi Secures Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit For California

Didi Chuxing, the China-based ride-hailing service that bought rival Uber’s China business last year, has been approved to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California, the latest to join the growing list of companies working on self-driving vehicles in the state.

As of May 10, 53 companies had received permits from the California Division of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving cars on public roads in the state, making it the most concentrated hub of autonomous vehicle research and testing activity in the world.

Didi’s permit puts pressure on rival Uber, which halted all testing after one of its self-driving vehicles hit and killed 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in a Phoenix suburb in March. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Uber has said it is cooperating with the NTSB in its investigation and has initiated a “top-to-bottom safety review” of its self-driving vehicles program. An Uber spokeswoman told Fortune earlier this month that the company has hired former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to review and advise on its overall safety culture.

The permit follows the opening of Didi Labs, the company’s new research and development center in Mountain View, Calif. Didi has acquired, partnered, and invested in a number of companies outside of China. But the R&D center is its first physical office outside of China. The company doesn’t plan to open its ride-hailing service in the United States.

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