Pony.ai and Luminar Technologies Partner on Sensors for Robotaxi Testing in Five Cities

Pony.ai is developing a vehicle-agnostic autonomous driving system that will include Luminar's 360-degree lidar sensing.

Pony.ai and Luminar

Luminar will provide low-profile sensors to Pony.ai robotaxis.
Pony.ai said its partnership with Luminar for 360-degree lidar sensing will enable it to expand its robotaxi testing globally.

Ride-hailing services are an active area for autonomous vehicle development and testing, as seen in AutoX's announcement of its first 100 days of robotic taxicab service. Today, Pony.ai Inc. introduced a new sensing platform designed in collaboration with Luminar Technologies Inc. Pony.ai also said it has driven more than 5 million kilometers (3.1 million mi.) across an operational coverage area of over 850 km² (528 sq. mi.) and has provided more than 220,000 robotaxi rides.

“Partnering with Luminar is a critical enabling milestone for Pony.ai as we build our next-generation system and prepare for large-scale series production,” stated James Peng, founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “Luminar is in a league of their own when it comes to lidar and shares our belief that delivering autonomous mobility globally will enable a safe and sustainable future. We’re excited to realize that vision together with them.”

Founded in 2016, Pony.ai has been developing autonomous mobility systems. The Fremont, Calif.-based company raised $400 million in February 2020 and said it is currently valued at $5.3 billion. Toyota is among its investors and partners. Pony.ai has been piloting robotaxi services in the U.S. and China.

Founded in 2012, Luminar provides lidar sensors and software for autonomous vehicles. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has more than 50 industry partners, including eight of the top 10 global automakers, and it signed a production deal for autonomous consumer vehicles with Volvo Cars last year. Luminar has also partnered with Daimler Truck AG, and it has nearly 400 employees.

Pony.ai to integrate Luminar sensors

Pony.ai said it plans to deploy automotive-grade production autonomous fleets in 2023 globally. The next-generation fleet will integrate Luminar’s Iris and feature a multi-sensor 360-degree configuration and a profile of 10cm (3.9 in.) off of the vehicle roof. The partners said their goal is to increase safe, autonomous driving in complex urban environments with an integrated sensor design that leads advanced development to production scale.

The partnership followed Pony.ai’s expansion of its robotaxi service across five cities, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing in China, as well as Irvine and Fremont, Calif. Pony.ai said its PonyPilot was China’s first robotaxi service in late 2018. In 2019, it became the first company to roll out a public-facing robotaxi service in California.

Pony.ai claimed that it is the only self-driving company with large-scale deployment across five cities internationally and a fleet of over 200 autonomous vehicles.

“Pony.ai’s vision to create a dynamic, vehicle-agnostic autonomous driving system is very impressive, and it has already demonstrated a clear leadership position for robotaxi development in China and beyond,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. “We’re leveraging the full extent of the technology and product development work we’ve accomplished over the years and directly re-applying it to Pony.ai’s platform and fleet.”

“Today, we’re finally seeing the line blur between what we’ve known as beautiful consumer car design and the look of a robotaxi,” said Jason Wojack, senior vice president of product development at Luminar. “This is a true moment in the evolution of vehicle design and innovation.”

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Pony.ai and Luminar

Luminar will provide low-profile sensors to Pony.ai robotaxis.

Robot Technologies