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Didi Chuxing receives self-driving testing permit in California

The Chinese ride-hailing giant has recently started to venture out of its original market and will likely soon begin testing its autonomous vehicle technology in the US.

Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing has acquired a permit from the state of California to test fully driverless cars on public roads, and that has left many Americans wondering who or what Didi Chuxing is.

Well, to start, Didi Chuxing is the most popular ride-hailing app in China. It is so popular that it took over Uber's Chinese operations last year. The company has, until very recently, focused its efforts at its home market, but as of last month, it made its first steps towards operating in Mexico.

Didi Chuxing is (now literally) the Chinese Uber, and it's just received a permit to test driverless cars in California.

Zhang Peng/Getty Images

In addition to the ride-hailing side of its business, Didi is heavily invested in artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicle development. Its successful effort to secure a self-driving car testing permit from California puts it much closer to its goals of having functional autonomous vehicles and gives it a small foothold in the American market.

California's move to allow testing of totally driverless cars on public roads was met with some criticism after Uber's fatal self-driving collision in March in which a pedestrian was struck and killed on an unlit street.

In addition to Didi Chuxing, other Chinese companies such as Baidu have acquired the necessary permits to test in California.