Focus on Pony.ai, the Chinese autonomous driving startup that is quietly building an international presence
FREMONT, Calif .– One of the world’s most prominent automakers, located in this East Bay suburb, has launched a feature called “Full Self-Driving.” Despite its name, the technology requires the constant vigilance of human drivers, who remain responsible for all vehicle operations.
In Tesla’s shadow, Pony.ai, another company just 2 miles away, has developed true Level 4 autonomous driving technology, which means the vehicle can operate without any human oversight. Pony.ai has growing ambitions of deploying robotaxis around the world.
The company took another step towards that goal in October, obtaining permission to conduct driverless tests on public roads in Beijing. The license allows Pony to test driverless human safety in a 7.7 square mile area that includes major metro stations. This follows clearances granted by Chinese authorities this year for testing self-driving cars and trucks on highways near the city.
Pony, which counts Toyota, Hyundai, FAW and GAC as automotive partners, is now approved for driverless testing in five cities on two continents. With $ 1.1 billion raised to date, including $ 400 million from Toyota, the company has quietly established itself as a global competitor.
“This is truly a top-notch company with a strong management team with extensive knowledge and experience,” said Michael Dunne, Founder and CEO of ZoZo Go, a consulting firm specializing in helping automotive businesses. Americans to better understand Asian markets.
Beyond Beijing, Pony conducts driverless testing in Guangzhou and has human safety on-board safeguard during the Shanghai testing. In California, daily driverless tests are performed at Fremont and Milpitas. The company is performing further testing in Irvine, California.
A constantly expanding scope of geographies and operations is key to the company’s strategy.
“Obtaining a driverless test license is strong proof of Pony.ai’s leadership position in the autonomous driving industry,” said Ning Zhang, vice president and head of the Beijing R&D center.