Pony.ai Inc., which has been developing autonomous driving technology, today announced that it has completed the first close of its Series D financing round but did not specify how much money it received.
The Fremont, Calif.-based company said the latest funding round brings its total valuation to $8.5 billion. It was previously valued at $5.3 billion in November 2020. The Series D round provides a significiant increase from Pony's valuation after its Series C and C+ rounds in 2020, it said.
Funds to enable hiring, mass production
Founded in 2016, Pony.ai has designed and tested autonomous mobility technologies and services in the U.S. and China. The startup claimed that it has given more than 220,000 robotic taxicab rides and that it was the first company to offer a robotaxi service in both China and California.
In December 2018, Pony.ai soft-launched its PonyPilot robotaxi service. It has since expanded its service to Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing in China, and PonyPilot is also available in Irvine and Fremont, Calif.
The company has formed partnerships with companies such as Toyota, FAW Group, and GAC Group.
Pony.ai said it will use the latest funding for hiring, research and development, and global testing of its robotaxis and autonomous trucks. It also plans to use the funding for new partnerships and to accelerate toward mass production and mass commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles.
Pony.ai passes milestones
In May 2021, Pony.ai announced that it had developed a new sensing program with lidar provider Luminar Technologies.
“We are excited about our 2022 objectives and the rapid pace of our development toward autonomous mobility globally, stated James Peng, co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “Our technical development and balance sheet strength go hand-in-hand in allowing us to significantly expand our hiring in 2022, open up a number of new autonomous vehicle global testing and operation sites, progress our strategic partnerships and rapidly grow our fleet.”
Tiancheng Lou, co-founder and chief technology officer of Pony.ai, claimed that, according to the company’s safety metrics from 2020 to 2021, “in most circumstances, Pony.ai’s virtual driver is now equal or superior to a human driver.”
“We’re confident in our autonomous vehicle tech readiness as we rapidly scale toward robotaxi and robotruck commercialization and mass production,” he added.
Lawrence Steyn, chief financial officer of Pony.ai, said the increase in valuation “is a reflection by our partners of our delivered results over the last year and our very specific development milestone stones for 2022.”
Pony.ai said it will announce additional details of its Series D funding at the closing of the full financing round.
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