Tencent has inked a partnership deal with automotive company FAW China to work on self-driving technology, as Alibaba launches its own autonomous vehicle trials.

Tencent has agreed a research and development deal with FAW China, a state-owned automotive manufacturing company, to focus on AI technology and big data.

The deal aims to develop level 3 and 4 auto-driving models, which means the cars did not require human intervention. The goal is to apply the technology to Red Flag cars with a goal of mass production.

It is the latest in a string of deals the internet giant has made with automotive brands including BYD, Changan, Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor, GAC Group and Geely.

It comes as Alibaba revealed it had begun conducting road tests of autonomous cars as it looks to expand its artificial intelligence research division to include self-driving vehicles.

The move sees Alibaba chasing its rivals Baidu and Tencent, both of which have already invested heavily in AI self-driving technology.

Baidu, which has been working on autonomous driving technology for some time, is seen as a serious player in the global self-driving technology market and is viewed as the national leader in the field by the Chinese government.

According to a report by Navigant Research, Baidu now outranks Tesla, Uber and Apple and has become a contender in the automated driving industry alongside Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover and Hyundai Motor.

The latest issue of The Drum magazine is devoted to exploring Alibaba and its potential growth into the West.

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