Self-driving technology company Pony.ai today announced it will integrate its virtual driver technology into GAC Motors vehicles for the Ontime ride-hailing platform.
The service will launch with an initial fleet of approximately 100 autonomous driving Ontime vehicles. In addition, riders will be able to request Pony.ai autonomous vehicles through the Ontime App as well as through Pony.ai’s own PonyPilot+ App.
Triade teams up
Ontime is one of China’s leading ride-hailing providers, offering a wide range of app-based ride-hailing services across the cities of China’s Greater Bay Area, such as Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, and Dongguan.
GAC is one of China’s largest automakers and a longtime Pony.ai partner. Pony.ai’s close collaboration with Ontime enables the two companies to leverage their own unique advantages to accelerate commercialization of autonomous driving technology, they said.
“Our deep cooperation with Ontime is key to our strategy of building the autonomous driving ride-hailing ecosystem,” said James Peng co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “This program with Ontime will start in Nansha, Guangzhou, where we currently operate, with the potential to expand quickly throughout many other regions of China.”
“For robotaxi service to gain customer acceptance, it must be accessible through a ride-hailing platform,” said Jiang Hua, CEO of Ontime. “Ontime will launch the first fully open robotaxi operation platform in the domestic ride-hailing industry.”
By providing a robotaxi commercial operating solution and robotaxi vehicle operating infrastructure, we believe this joint partnership can accelerate the sustainable commercial development of robotaxi service,” Hua added.
Pony.ai said efforts continue on its robotaxi app
In addition to working with leading ride-hailing companies like Ontime to broaden Pony.ai’s reach into the ride-hailing ecosystem, Pony.ai continues to develop and deploy its own robotaxi app, PonyPilot+.
This partnership with Ontime builds on Pony.ai’s April 24 announcement that it is the first and only autonomous driving company to receive a taxi license in China, with a permit to operate 100 autonomous vehicles as traditional taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou.
In May, Pony.ai will start charging fares in the entire 803 square kilometers of Nansha with 100 Pony.ai robotaxis and intends to gradually expand the scale and scope of service to other areas of Guangzhou to benefit more residents. The 100 vehicle Pony.ai fleet in Nansha with a taxi license will be separate from and will operate in parallel to the Pony.ai-Ontime fleet.
Recent Pony.ai approvals
Pony.ai also received a fee-charging permit for robotaxi services in Beijing in November 2021 and is now the sole company approved to commercialize autonomous driving services in two Tier-1 cities in China.
With successful commercialization in Beijing and Guangzhou, Pony.ai plans to expand its commercialized robotaxi footprint to the other two Tier-1 cities in China next year and to more cities by the start of Pony.ai’s mass commercialization planned for 2024/2025.
Pony.ai currently has autonomous vehicle testing and operations in all four of China’s Tier-1 cities and in California.
Last week, the company was awarded a permit to operate 100 autonomous vehicles as traditional taxis in Nansha, Guanghzhou.