Jidu, a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, recently unveiled its first “Roboverse” experience centre at Taikoo Li Sanlitun, a shopping centre in the Sanlitun area of the Chaoyang District in Beijing, China. A collaboration between Jidu and Gensler, the experiential space brings together product experience, digital experience, brand display, art space and other functions, with the aim of uniting people, art and technology. Jidu’s head of operations Luo Gang said the year has been a hect
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a hectic but rewarding one so far. “Creating epoch-making ‘robocars’ from scratch itself is the greatest cause of our time, and we have every reason to seize this business opportunity,” he told Inside Retail.
The story so far
Established in March 2021, Jidu is an intelligent automotive start-up built on leading technologies from Chinese search engine giant Baidu and leading automotive manufacturer Geely. Geely leads Jidu’s car development and smart manufacturing, while Baidu provides artificial intelligence and Apollo-based capabilities.
According to Gang, Jidu aims to commercialise autonomous driving and human-machine interaction around the world, creating a revolutionary ‘robocar’ with emotional intelligence.
“Following last year’s launch of the Lunar Edition of the first robocar Robo-01, we plan to deliver the first mass-produced Robo-01 and unveil the second smart sedan Robo-02,” he said.
He went on to say that although some may think a “robocar” sounds awkward, he believes all future cars will be robots.
“Don’t forget that motor cars were called once “horseless carriages” at the time when they were invented. In the future, there will be no distinction between cars and robocars,” he added.
The experience centre
Gang reiterated that the Roboverse experience centre is intended to act as a gateway to Jidu’s digital universe. The aim is to engage with users in a new digital experience journey, to create a ‘fourth space’, blending the digital universe with the real world.
He believes that the automobile has the potential to become the third generation of intelligent devices, following PCs and smartphones. To that end, Jidu’s advanced autonomous driving and advanced smart cabin design will play an important role.
“At present, the Roboverse juxtaposes robocars, digital twins, ubiquitous artistic and stylish elements in a conceptual assumption on future life. It breaks boundaries and leads users into the digital world,” he said.
The Roboverse also puts a premium on offline experiences, such as user services, points mall, branded products, digital art and sci-fi projects. This encompasses the company’s foray into future user experience and lifestyle products.
“For example, our digital twin activation immerses users in a digital experience journey via online and offline channels, and this is focused on a symbiosis of artificial intelligence. In the future, the Roboverse concept will be expanded to other cities nationwide,” he explained.
While there has been a lot of talk about the potential demise of the metaverse on a global scale, Jidu is still banking on it. According to Gang, from an industry and market perspective, the trend to incorporate retail into digitisation and metaverse is an unstoppable trend.
“The greatest value lies in revitalising retailing with digital interaction. In such a scenario, consumers are exposed to industrial design, functionality and inner workings of products. Retailers will finally achieve a balance between virtual and physical worlds,” he said.
At the Roboverse centre, consumers will be able to generate their own avatar via the Jidu app. The company aims to reshape the brand-user relationship and brand experience through this avatar experience.
“From animations in our childhood to the film Avatar captivating adult viewers, the avatar is our lifelong pursuit. On the digital ground, we will reshape the narrative with artificial intelligence and roll out the digital twin experience,” he elaborated.
Richard Chang, retail practice area leader and studio director at Gensler Shanghai, chimed in by saying that the future of retail is all about delivering experiences and designing spaces for social connections.
“The key is creating space as a multi-sensory ecosystem with a digital first mindset, which allows consumers to experience a continuous flow of information between the physical and digital worlds,” he told Inside Retail.