Horizon Robotics' former smart driving R&D director Liao Jie has joined as head of the latter's smart driving team in Shanghai, according to local media.

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BYD (OTCMKTS: BYDDY) appears to be upping its bet on smart driving.

Liao Jie, the former director of smart driving research and development at Chinese chip startup Horizon Robotics, has joined BYD as the head of the latter's smart driving Shanghai team, according to a report Monday by local tech outlet Leiphone.

Liao joined Horizon Robotics in May 2016 as a senior R&D engineer and was promoted to director of smart driving R&D in December 2017, the report noted.

At Horizon Robotics, he was primarily responsible for autonomous driving algorithms for the Journey series of chips, and works with partners to optimize the algorithms.

BYD's smart driving division is part of its institute of product planning and new automotive technologies, which has been recruiting heavily since the new head of smart driving operations, Han Bing, took over this year, the report said.

As of now, the size of the institute's R&D team has expanded to 2,000 people, with most of the engineers based at BYD's Shenzhen headquarters, and some located at its R&D centers in Shanghai and Xi'an, according to the report.

Notably, BYD is one of Horizon Robotics' backers. The two announced a partnership on April 21, 2022, in which BYD will carry Horizon Robotics' self-driving chip, Journey 5, in some of its 2023 models.

BYD models equipped with the Journey 5 chip will be available as early as mid-2023, Horizon Robotics said in a press release last year.

On May 11, local media outlet 36kr reported that Wang Huan, head of smart driving R&D at BYD's planning institute, had left the company, and that Han, formerly director of the electronics integration department, had become the new head of the business.

Han was preparing the new energy vehicle (NEV) maker's smart driving chip design team, and these adjustments are a positive sign that BYD was accelerating the pace of its smart driving self-research, 36kr's report noted.

BYD sold a record 262,161 NEVs in July, bringing its January-July total to more than 1.5 million units, half of its target for the year, according to data it released earlier this month.

BYD expects to see its 5 millionth NEV roll off line on Aug 9

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