Robotaxi: The Struggle For Supremacy Begins In China

25/10/2019

 

 

The sector has succeeded in attracting big names like Baidu and Didi, and now Pony.ai, a Guangzhou-based startup AV, is ready to take the market

 

 

The first to arrive takes as much as possible. This is probably what is driving Pony.ai, the Guangzhou-based startup AV, to put its products on the field right away. The technological unicorn Pony.ai became the first Chinese company to test the robotaxis on urban public roads about a year ago, and is now on track to expand its fleet to 100 vehicles by the end of the year.

Similar to Google Waymo‘s self-driving drive unit, Pony.ai’s completely self-developed software algorithms allow level 4 autonomy, in which a car is able to accurately perceive its surroundings, predict what others will do and manoeuvre accordingly.

Founded in late 2016 by former Baidu scientists James Peng and Lou Tiancheng, Pony.ai is based in Fremont, California and in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, with a research and development centre in Beijing. In particular, Pony.ai is the best performing Chinese company in terms of autonomous driving tests on open roads in California.

 

The company has accumulated an average self-driving distance of 1,022.3 miles

 

Pony.ai ranked fifth among the 48 global players in the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ annual disengagement report last year, after Waymo. A spokesman for Pony.ai, speaking with TechNode, said: “The focus of the work in this phase is still to improve the stability and expandability of the autonomous driving system with the premise of ensuring safety and gradually expanding the driverless fleet from 100 to thousands This year, companies that manage only a few cars for demonstrations find it very difficult to survive. Prudence and concentration of capital have a great positive impact on the development of an industry “.

Pony.ai has secured the support of the best venture capital companies, including Sequoia Capital China and Legend Capital. The company has secured over $ 300 million in loans in four rounds, with a valuation of $ 1.7 billion, the highest among its Chinese counterparts. Pony.ai also received support from the Guangzhou Transportation Bureau, which issues AV test licenses for robotaxis, as well as the Nansha authorities. The company has “24-hour access to all roads in the area,” Xie Xiaohui, head of the Nansha Trade Office, told CCTV.

“The technical level of Pony.ai and WeRide rank among the best-connected car manufacturers in the world. They are also some of the top-level autonomous driving players in China. Guangzhou welcomes domestic and foreign AV companies to carry out testing activities and the relevant departments of the city will actively provide services.

 

 

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