Only four months after Deeproute.ai announced it planned to sell its self-driving solution at an attractive $10,000, the Shenzhen and Fremont-based startup said it has further slashed the cost by approximately 70% to $3,000.
The touted price tag surely stands out, given Deeproute is promising two to five solid-state lidars, eight cameras, as well as Nvidia's Drive Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC) for each of its Level 4 solutions, the stage of autonomous driving that does not require human intervention in most conditions.
It's not news that Chinese lidar makers are striving to make the sensor technology more affordable. Xpeng, a Chinese electric vehicle upstart, said in 2021 that it would be adding lidar made by DJI-affiliate Livox to its mass-produced vehicles.
But even with each lidar unit being $500, which is already low by today's standard (they could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars just a few years ago), the sum quickly adds up to $2,500 without counting the cameras and chips yet.
Deeproute, which is backed by Alibaba and Chinese carmaker Geely, declined to disclose the price for its "bulk purchase" of lidar and other components because "the suppliers want to keep it confidential." It did share the breakdown, saying five lidar sensors cost about 50% and the chip accounts for 30%.
Deeproute is working with two partners to achieve affordability. Robosense, a lidar maker also based in Shenzhen, supplies its main lidar and Z Vision, a Beijing-based company, supplies its blind-spot lidar.
The company's low-cost L4 package, which is part of its Driver 2.0 autonomous driving system, will first be deployed in a robotaxi fleet comprising 30 SAIC Motor SUVs in Shenzhen in the coming months. The solution also uses 5G remote control and network safety redundancy for safety measures.
In a bid to further commercialize Driver 2.0, Deeproute said it plans to bring the solution into mass-produced, consumer-grade vehicles in 2024. It will be working with both Chinese and international automakers, which means the cars could be sold worldwide, with a goal to manufacture 100,00 such vehicles.
"We aspire to be the top facilitator of smart transportation, bringing high-performance, advanced autonomous driving capabilities to the market at an accessible price," said Maxwell (Guang) Zhou, CEO of Deeproute.ai in a statement.
"The debut of this groundbreaking robotaxi fleet offers the industry a vivid sneak peek into the future of L4 robotaxis and what is possible for the consumer vehicle."