Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc has reportedly set up a Chinese subsidiary for its driverless car division Waymo. As per a business registration filing, this might be Google’s attempt to penetrate the China market, where the government has strict regulations against its online services.
For a registered capital of 3.5 million Yuan, Waymo has registered a completely new company, called Huimo Business Consulting in Shanghai, revealed China’s National Enterprise Information Publicity System.
For the uninitiated, Waymo is one of the leading U.S. manufacturers of autonomous cars and specializes in business and logistics consultancy and driverless car testing. Industry experts believe that ever since Google’s exit from the Chinese search engine market in 2010, it has been trying to figure out ways to re-enter China’s online domain, where most of its services such as Gmail, YouTube and search are blocked.
Previously, Google was reported of launching a censored version of its search engine, exclusively for China. Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive officer had back then, faced heavy criticism for the plans, as the company’s employees had begun to wonder if Google would compromise its values merely to enter the China market.
The company had also invested in Chushou, a Chinese live-stream mobile game platform and collaborated with Tencent Holdings Ltd to launch an AI game exclusively for WeChat.
According to a report by CNN, Waymo is entering the market at a time when China is rapidly expanding its autonomous driving market. The government has set aside guidelines for road tests while several Chinese tech companies including Didi Chuxing, Baidu, and Alibaba have already begun developing their own autonomous car projects.
Sources close to the matter believe that carrying out operations in China will present obstacles for Waymo’s Huimo. It will be tough for Waymo to develop its own map, as city mapping still remains a sensitive issue for the Chinese government. Moreover, the nation is permitted access to Google’s map service only through desktops, reported sources.
Waymo has not been available for comments post the announcement.
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