Pony.ai Inc. this week said it has begun testing fully driverless vehicles on public roads in Fremont and Milpitas, Calif., in addition to testing in Guangzhou, China. The company claimed that it is the first to conduct fully autonomous vehicle testing “across two of the world's most dynamic mobility markets.”
“Going completely driverless is key to achieving full autonomy and an indispensable catalyst to realizing our ambitious vision,” said James Peng, founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “As we continue to grow and scale, we extended our community responsibility from contactless delivery services throughout the pandemic in California last year to fight against the new COVID-19 outbreak in Guangzhou.”
Founded in 2016, Pony.ai said it is a pioneer in self-driving cars, piloting robotic taxicab services in five cities in both the U.S. and China. The Fremont-based company is currently valued at $5.3 billion, and it has collaborated with automotive OEMs including Toyota, Hyundai, and GAC Group. It recently partnered with Luminar Technologies Inc. to integrate Luminar's low-profile sensors into its fleets.
Pony.ai readies fully driverless vehicles
Pony.ai noted that its driverless robotaxi plans build on previous permission from the California Department of Motor Vehicles for a fleet of six driverless vehicles. They have a total operational coverage over 100 sq. km (38.6 sq. mi.).
The company added that it has made “countless stealth technology iterations” and that its team has conducted “numerous driverless readiness evaluations” to make sure its fully autonomous vehicles are ready for public roads.
The City of Fremont has worked with Pony.ai to deliver meal kits to vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the company has partnered with Yamibuy in Southern California to bring an autonomous and contactless last-mile delivery service to Irvine residents.
Serving Chinese communities and extending robotaxi service
Pony.ai added that it has also provided pandemic support to communities in China.
“In Guangzhou, a fleet of 14 driverless vehicles transports medical equipment, life supplies, and front-line medical workers to local communities, day and night,” said Peng. “Pony.ai always holds social responsibility in our hearts and puts community at the center of everything we do.”
As U.S. cities reopen in phases, Pony.ai said it looks forward to resuming its robotaxi service to the public in Irvine, Calif., this summer. The company plans plans to roll out the fully driverless service to the public in 2022.
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