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Since the announcement of its SEE Plan over a year ago, LeEco has formed several remarkable partnerships including a joint venture with Aston Martin, investments in Chinese ride-sharing app Yidao Yongche and Beijing Dianzhuang Technology Ltd., and a strategic cooperation with smart EV start-up Faraday Future. Taking a step further, LeEco will unveil a concept of its Le Super Car at this year’s Beijing Auto Show.

Also, renowned Chinese autonomous driving expert Dr. Kai Ni has been appointed Vice President, Smart Driving of LeAuto (China) – demonstrating that the fast-growing LeEco automotive subsidiary is accelerating in a new and strategically important vehicle category.

The appointment was announced yesterday at a news conference hosted by LeAutoLink, LeAuto’s leading Internet of Vehicles (IoV) system.

“LeEco has placed a high priority on smart driving technology and its strategic positioning within our SEE Plan starting from last year,” said Mr Lei Ding, co-founder and global vice chairman of LeAuto. “As Mr. Kai Ni and other talent join us, our progress in seizing the leadership position in this brand-new arena will be greatly accelerated.”

The move marks yet another significant step forward for LeAuto in further solidifying its positioning throughout the entire automotive value chain, including smart, Internet-connected EV R&D, production and manufacturing, sales, EV charging strategy, after-sales services, and car sharing.

Recently, Hubertus Troska, Chairman and CEO of Daimler (Greater China Region), and Professor Hans Georg Engel, R&D head of Daimler China visited LeEco and the both sides have explored potential cooperation in areas including autonomous driving.

Kai Ni received his B.S. and M.S. from Tsinghua University, where he was also part of the Tsinghua autonomous car R&D project. He later received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Kai joined Baidu in 2013 as Senior Researcher of the Institute of Deep Learning, leading the R&D of Baidu autonomous car and unmanned aerial vehicles. Last December, the Baidu autonomous car program completed its first road test in Beijing, marking a new chapter in the development of autonomous driving technology in China.

Prior to Baidu, Ni worked at Microsoft and participated in 3D mapping and HoloLens augmented reality R&D projects.  In addition, Ni played an important role in the robotics project team, along with the renowned software designer George Chrysanthakopoulos. Commissioned by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the robotics project was completed by a small team led by Gates’ trusted advisors, who worked in strict confidentiality to develop a robotic R&D platform.