Richard Liu Co-founder & CEO, Leap.ai
Published on December 7, 2017
DiDi Tech Day
An inside look of the world's largest mobile transportation platform
Eyeing China’s next billion-dollar boom in technology and innovation? Come take the leap with us and ride towards one of the hottest transportation tech companies.
Didi Chuxing, the world’s largest mobile transportation platform that bought Uber China’s business unit last year, has arrived in Silicon Valley. In March 2017, Didi Chuxing opened its first research and development center outside of China in Silicon Valley, the hotspot for artificial intelligence and self-driving car technology.
Leap.ai teamed up with our friends at DiDi to host the company’s first US-based Tech Day and open house on Nov. 18th, at the site of their new campus - a 36,000 sq ft space in Mountain View, CA right next to NASA and Delphi Labs. There was an overwhelming amount of interest in the event which received over 900 RSVPs. We stretched the original floor plan and accommodated more than 400 attendees who listened to presentations from top executives at DiDi ranging from attracting global talent in AI, Info Security, and self-driving technology.
The company’s Engineering Management team shared their insights and the immense progress they have been making as well as the types of challenges they face that will require top engineering talent to solve.
Here are some highlights from the event and keynotes.
Scale
Besides being the leader in China’s ride-sharing market, DiDi’s total number of rides has now more than doubled all of the ride-hailing services in the world combined, which means that at least 2/3 of the rides in the world are on DiDi's platform. Just the sheer size of the business is mind-blowing:
  • 25MM rides / day
  • 20B+ routing requests / day
  • 450MM+ riders
  • 21MM+ flexible work opportunities
  • 70 TB new data / day
  • 4,500TB data processed / day
Scope
All of the audience members at the event wanted to learn more about the technical challenges related to ride-sharing and by far one of the biggest eye-openers of the day was the scope of DiDi’s innovation that goes way beyond just ride-sharing. They are taking an innovative approach to improving all aspects of the entire intelligent transportation ecosystem including:
  • Smart traffic lights: All of us have been there, sitting in traffic, one red light after another. Unfortunately, traffic light interval settings do not change frequently and are updated only once every few years in an open-loop fashion where real-time traffic data is not applied. DiDi took an unprecedented approach to pilot the smart traffic light project in Jinan, one of the most congested cities in China, to test the idea and feasibility of smart traffic lights. Based on early results, they’ve already seen a 20% improvement in traffic efficiency.
  • Real-time traffic guidance: DiDi launched initiatives across many cities in China to remind drivers to avoid congested areas in real-time. They are also experimenting Tidal Lanes so that various types of roads can be used more efficiently during rush hour.
  • Urban City Planning: DiDi has also teamed up with government-owned transportation authorities to improve traffic optimization, ranging from bus routes, bus timetables, to congestion ranking and detailed hotspot analysis which provides insightful information for better urban city planning.
Sophistication
At the core of their business, DiDi is handling 25MM rides everyday which translates to a series of technical challenges in Cloud Computing and Machine Learning. The DiDi Brain plays a major role in many daily decisions. Below are some sample problems they are tackling:
  • Demand forecasting: Many features are applied to forecast demand and ETA, such as weather, traffic conditions, and historical observations.
  • Route planning & ETA: Based on massive amounts of real-time travel data, DiDi is constantly and instantaneously improving time estimation algorithms, which is far superior to traditional computing methods.
  • DiDi Pool: Deciding how to provide the right experience for each rider while also achieving high efficiency for the driver. This requires utilizing DiDi Brain to estimate service scores for each passenger.
Safety & Security
Meanwhile, DiDi pays extremely close attention to safety and security. The team is constantly working on identifying dangerous driving behaviors through real-time analytics and provides safety warnings. They also identify unsafe rides by detecting rapid acceleration, sharp turns, hard braking, sudden lane changes, distracted driving, fatigued driving, and speeding.
The company’s sophistication goes beyond technology. Their global footprint involves close partnership with cities, governments and other major players in the ecosystem to drive innovation forward. They have solid partnerships with businesses around the world like Uber, Lyft, 99, Grab, Careem, OLA, Taxify and are dedicated to embracing local cultures.
We are honored to be Didi Chuxing’s strategic talent acquisition partner to help fuel their hyper-growth and technological innovation by finding the right people to join the team.
If you’re interested in job opportunities, sign up on Leap.ai to see if you might be a good fit for jobs at DiDi Labs and Didi Chuxing.

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Richard Liu - Co-founder & CEO, Leap.ai
Richard is co-founder and CEO at Leap.ai, a startup on building a career development framework to empower people to leap to their dream career. Before started Leap.ai in 2016, he was an Engineering Director at Google. He was a key leader in a wide range of product areas from Enterprise Search, Shopping, Offers to Project Fi.