Self-driving licenses are a reality! No, dear reader, that doesn’t mean you can apply for one and start looking forward to boozy nights out on the town without needing to take a Didi ride home. But it’s a step toward that eventuality: Guangzhou today issued the first batch of licenses for self-driving – also known as autonomous driving – to six companies. They can now take their 24 licensed vehicles out onto the city’s streets to run further tests – in live traffic.Continue reading Guangzhou grants self-driving test licenses
Guangzhou based self-driving startup Pony.ai is joining an exclusive club of companies that have launched autonomous ride-hailing programs. At this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, it took the wraps off of PonyPilot, a test project for “product-ready” driverless cars within a geofenced area in Guangzhou. It’s currently available to Pony.ai employees and “select affiliates” by invitation only, and CEO James Peng says it’s the culmination of years of continuous testing in the Nansha district, according to Venture Beat.
Pony.ai says that PonyPilot covers roughly 50 square kilometers of central Nansha, including commercial plazas, office buildings, landmark hotels, libraries, and residential complexes. Riders are able to hail cars at any predetermined point with a smartphone app available through WeChat, and travel using point-to-point dynamic routing to any other predetermined point within the area. During rides, passengers can follow their vehicle’s location and driving decisions through mounted in-cabin dashboards.
Pony.ai says it might consider opening PonyPilot to the public in the future, and potentially beyond the confines of Nansha. The company is currently testing driverless cars in Fremont, California and Beijing, in addition to Guangzhou. Read more.
Beijing Kunlun Tech is to invest US$50 million for a 3% stake in Guangzhou-based autonomous driving technology startup Pony.ai, reports Technode.
Pony.ai claimed to be the first to offer fully self-driving car rides to the public in China. It did a soft launch of an autonomous ride-hailing fleet in Guangzhou in February 2018. It was also the first startup to secure an autonomous vehicle testing license in Beijing.
Pony.ai completed its Series A and A1 financing rounds in 2018, raising a total of $214 million, with backers including Sequoia Capital China, China Merchants Capital and Morningside Ventures. Instead of making its own cars, the company partners with local automobile groups like BYD Auto and GAC to provide AI solutions that turn their cars into driverless vehicles.