Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn Technology Group is joining the self-driving car race, as the New Taipei-based company has reportedly announced that it is building a research and development facility in Michigan, according to South China Morning Post. Although the size of the facility is not currently unknown, the report suggests that this could be a multi-billion dollar investment.
According to Foxconn founder Terry Gou, the United States is ahead of China in the self-driving tech segment, though the investment isn't meant to imply that the Taiwanese conglomerate isn't also interested in pursuing autonomous driving ventures in the Far Eastern country. If its plan to make advancements in the self-driving car industry in the U.S. ever materializes, the company is expected to take on tech giants like Waymo, Tesla, Uber, and Apple. Waymo is one of the main division leading Alphabet's latest valuation growth, with analysts from Morgan Stanley estimating that Waymo's business could alone be valued between $70 billion and $140 billion in the near future. Ride-hailing firm Lyft also started pursuing autonomous driving solutions more actively this year, having announced a new collaborative self-driving facility in Palo Alto, California. Then there’s Uber, which partnered with Daimler earlier this year to use its fleet of vehicles in Uber’s self-driving car network, in addition to pursuing a number of other initiatives. Uber and Waymo are currently wrapped in a legal dispute over supposed theft of self-driving tech on Uber's part, though both companies are still expected to make significant contributions to this emerging field in the near future.
Foxconn is not the only company from China that aims to jump in the autonomous vehicle market, as more firms from the Far Eastern country are also actively pursuing self-driving technologies. One such company is Baidu which has launched a partnership with NVIDIA last month, stating that the two will invest in a variety of artificial intelligence-related endeavors, including self-driving cars. Mr. Gou recently mentioned that Foxconn is also interested in AI and deep learning technologies in particular, without elaborating on the matter. The Taiwanese company is expected to disclose more details on its future endeavors in the coming months.