Chinese startup Pony.ai can now test driverless vehicles in three California cities – TechCrunch


Chinese robotaxi startup Pony.ai has been given permission by California regulators to pilot its autonomous vehicles with out a human security driver behind the wheel in three cities.

While dozens of corporations — 55 in all — have energetic permits to test autonomous vehicles with a security driver, it’s far much less frequent to obtain permission for driverless vehicles. Pony is the eighth firm to be issued a driverless testing allow in the state, an inventory that features Chinese corporations AutoX, Baidu and WeRide in addition to U.S. companies Cruise, Nuro, Waymo and Zoox. Only Nuro has been granted a so-called deployment allow, which permits it to function commercially.

The allow issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the company that regulates automated car testing, expands upon the Pony’s present exercise in the state. Pony.ai has been allowed to test autonomous vehicles with security drivers since 2017.

Under the allow, Pony.ai will be capable of test six autonomous vehicles with out a driver behind the wheel on specified streets inside Fremont, Milpitas and Irvine. There are constraints to the allow. The vehicles are designed to function on roads with posted pace limits not exceeding 45 miles per hour in clear climate and lightweight precipitation. Testing will initially happen in Fremont and Milpitas weekdays between 10 a.m. and three p.m.

Companies that obtain these driverless permits have to offer proof of insurance coverage or a bond equal to $5 million and observe a number of different guidelines, similar to coaching distant operators on the technology. Driverless testing allow holders should additionally report back to the DMV any collisions involving a driverless test car inside 10 days and submit an annual report of disengagements, in line with the DMW.

Pony.ai, which was based in 2016 by former Baidu builders James Peng and Lou Tiancheng, has landed numerous companions and traders in its comparatively quick existence. Last November, the corporate mentioned its valuation had reached $5.three billion following a contemporary injection of $267 million in funding. The firm, which operates in China and California, has raised greater than $1 billion since its founding, together with $400 million from Toyota. Pony has a number of partnerships or collaborations with automakers and suppliers, together with Bosch, Hyundai and Toyota.

Pony is constructing what it describes as an agnostic digital driver for all sizes of vehicles, from small cars to giant vans, and to function on each ridesharing and logistics (supply) service networks. The firm mentioned again in 2019 that it was working with OEMs and suppliers to use its automated technology to the long-haul trucking market. But it’s maybe finest identified for its effort round robotaxis.

Pony has examined ridesharing in Fremont and Irvine, California and Guangzhou, China. In 2019, a fleet of electrical, autonomous Hyundai Kona crossovers outfitted with a self-driving system from Pony.ai and Via’s ride-hailing platform started shuttling clients on public roads. The robotaxi service, known as BotRide, wasn’t a driverless service, as there was a human security driver behind the wheel always. The BotRide pilot concluded in January 2020.

The firm then began working a public robotaxi service known as PonyPilot in the Irvine space. Pony shifted that robotaxi service from shuttling individuals to packages because the COVID-19 pandemic swept via the world. In April, Pony.ai introduced it had partnered with e-commerce platform Yamibuy to offer autonomous last-mile supply service to clients in Irvine. The new supply service was launched to offer further capability to deal with the surge of on-line orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pony.ai mentioned on the time.



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