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China's 'Uber' for trucks looking to boost focus on big data technologies

By Wang Zhuoqiong and Yang Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-14 10:25

A pedestrian walks past an advertisement for Full Truck Alliance Group in Guiyang, Guizhou province on Jan 16, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Full Truck Alliance Group, China's biggest application for Uber and Didi-like truck services, is looking to break even this year by leveraging its financial services for truck drivers and integrating existing resources with the help of big data technologies.

Luo Peng, chief executive officer and co-founder of Guiyang Huochebang Technology Co and joint president of Full Truck Alliance Group, said the platform will offer comprehensive services for truck drivers like financial products for electronic toll collection payments, fuel and tire purchases, and loans to boost transactions.

Headquartered in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, Full Truck Alliance was created through the merger of Huochebang and Yunmanman in 2017. The company has about 5.5 million registered truck drivers, accounting for some 90 percent of the total number of freight truck drivers on the main highways in China.

According to a report by G7, an internet of things and big data company, and consulting firm Bain & Co, China's road freight market size hit 5 trillion yuan ($745.3 billion) in 2017, making it the world's biggest road transportation market. Total road freight in the nation reached 6.1 trillion ton-kilometers, covered by a fleet of more than 5 million heavy trucks and over 14 million light and medium-sized trucks.

Also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, Luo believes that long-haul trucking, involving long hours of cruising in relatively simple highway environments, would be an ideal scenario for the introduction of automated vehicles.

"It may take time to commercialize the autonomous driving technologies for freight transportation, but it won't be the same if implemented in a more simple environment such as logistics parks or freight at wharves," Luo said while introducing some clips demonstrating how the company took on tests on autonomous driving trucks at a logistics park.

Full Truck Alliance has invested in Plus AI Inc, a leading global self-driving company focusing on enabling large-scale autonomous commercial trucking fleets in 2018. Last July, the company completed road tests of its L4 level truck warehouse to warehouse.

"The challenge in autonomous driving is not how to control the vehicle. The challenge is how to improve the integration between new technologies and traditional automobile manufacturing capacities," Luo said.

He said the company has made efforts in creating and training scenarios for vehicles to get used to real road environments.

Full Truck Alliance is also a significant big data leader in Guizhou province. Luo said the technology is not merely creating an industry, nor a cluster of industries, but an infrastructure for the full transformation of traditional enterprises.

Last year, the company deepened its integration in the traditional logistics industry with the help of big data technologies. It connected 5.5 million truck drivers with 7,000 privately owned petrol stations.

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