This self-driving start-up wants to do more than just deliver groceries to your doorstep


Self-driving cars are still a relatively new concept that’s being tested, but one start-up, AutoX, is thinking ahead and looking for different ways autonomous vehicles can be used.

Last year, the company launched a grocery delivery pilot program in San Jose, California. Users who download the AutoX app on their mobile phones can place orders for fresh produce and other goods. Those items will be delivered to them by one of AutoX’s driverless cars.

The company’s aim is to “democratize autonomy” and make self-driving cars universally applicable in areas such as logistics, transportation and delivery, according to Jianxiong Xiao, founder and CEO at AutoX.

“For us, we’re creating an (artificial intelligence) platform,” Xiao told told CNBC’s Martin Soong on Tuesday.

“That can power different vehicles. Those vehicles can transport human beings (and) can do delivery of goods,” he said at the Credit Suisse Global Supertrends Conference in Singapore. “We’re not choosing the vertical segment, but we’re providing the AI platform that can power all these self-driving cars.”

AutoX has raised around $43 million in funds, according to Crunchbase data. It includes an investment from China’s Dongfeng Motor Group.

The company says it has a proprietary technology that uses multiple sensors to process information, accurately calculate distances and detect obstacles in the car’s path. AutoX’s business model relies on licensing that technology to other companies that can implement their self-driving services.

“We’re trying to empower all different segments including car manufacturers, including ride-sharing companies, including logistics companies, to make good use of this technology to make their business better,” Xiao said. “Internet can help many traditional industries become better, much more efficient.”

That’s slightly different from the self-driving services that Waymo and Uber are attempting.

For its part, Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo launched the first commercial autonomous ride-sharing service in the U.S. last year, following months of testing. Ride-sharing app Uber, on the other hand, recently announced a $1 billion investment into its self-driving car group.

Xiao explained that despite running a pilot program in the United States, AutoX’s focus is more on China and the Asia Pacific markets.

“The way we see the China market, and also Asia Pacific, in general, is a huge market. It’s going to be a really good testing ground,” he said.