Pony.ai is the first and only company to receive such a permit in Guangzhou.
Software company Pony.ai has received a permit to operate its driverless robotaxi services in Guangzhou city of China. The startup, which is backed by Toyota Motor Corp., now has the authorization to offer its service in the Chinese city. The vehicles will have no safety operator nor human beings in the driver’s seat, as Pony.ai provides full driverless robotaxi services in Guangzhou. Pony.ai began driverless testing in the city in June 2021, meaning it has almost a two-year record of safe driverless experience. During the period, the vehicles operated in extreme weather conditions, including heavy fog, thunderstorms, and rain, as part of the testing process. Pony.ai also tried its driverless robotaxis with complex road scenarios like intersections and narrow roads to test its ability.
As of April 2023, the company has recorded almost 200,000 fee-charging robotaxi orders globally. It also boasts over a million kilometers (more than 621,000 miles) of driverless testing.
Pony.ai Becomes First to Secure License to Operate Driverless Robotaxi Service in Guangzhou
According to a press release announcing the new feat, Pony.ai is the first company to receive such a permit in Guangzhou. Before the recent approval in Guangzhou, Pony.ai and Baidu got similar permits in Beijing last year. The new generation robotaxi model was successfully launched in Beijing on April 14, 2023. This means that the company can operate its public-facing, fully driverless robotaxis in two cities in China- Beijing and Guangzhou.
Henceforth, riders can place orders for their Pony.ai robotaxi to residential and business districts, subway stops, parks, etc., using the PonyPilot+ app. After choosing their destinations, the app users can also customize the color of the vehicle’s welcome light before its arrival. As no human is driving the robotaxis, Pony.ai explained that Guangzhou residents need to scan the QR code on the rear right door to unlock the vehicle. Also, riders must buckle their seat belts before the full-driverless journey to their preferred destinations begins.
Additionally, the press release states:
“Pony.ai’s next generation robotaxi model equipped with its sixth-generation self-driving software and hardware systems, based on the seven-seat Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS (S-AM) model, has obtained test licenses in Beijing and Guangzhou and is testing on the road. While initial testing of the S-AM model vehicles include a safety driver, it has passed the exams and expert review required for a driverless permit, and it is anticipated that S-AM model driverless robotaxi services will commence in the near future.”
Last month, Pony.ai announced that it has partnered with Meituan to develop driverless vehicles for food delivery services. The joint venture expects at least 10,000 delivery robots equipped with Pony’s autonomous driving controller in China’s first-tier cities by the end of 2024.
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