Autonomous robotaxi startup Pony.ai has garnered its latest permit in China – this time allowing rides in the city of Guangzhou without a safety officer present in the vehicle. The permit follows recent permissions awarded to the startup in Beijing, as it continues to expand through China and beyond.
Pony.ai Inc. is a technology company founded in 2016 that specializes in autonomous mobility. Its robotaxi development has been bolstered by partnerships with global OEMs like Toyota, GAC Group, and NIO Capital, which have helped it become one of the trailblazers of driverless rides in China.
Since the launch of its robotaxi app in December 2018, Pony.ai has commercialized its autonomous taxi services in Chinese cities like Beijing and Guangzhou and has expanded US cities like Tucson, Arizona.
To date, Pony.ai has completed over 13 million miles of autonomous driving and over 200,000 paid rides. Pony was the first robotaxi company to receive a permit to operate in China and has since begun true driverless rides in Beijing. Today, the company announced those rides without safety personnel present will expand to the city of Guangzhou.
Pony.ai adds true driverless robotaxi rides to Guangzhou
Per its press release, Pony.ai’s latest permit will enable 17 robotaxis to operate in the 310 square-mile Nansha district of Guangzhou without a safety officer present in the vehicle – a previous requirement in order for the vehicles to operate.
Safety officers will still monitor the rides remotely and passengers will be able to communicate with the Pony.ai team via voice if they need assistance. Still, Pony.ai’s robotaxi permit remains the first issued in Guangzhou.
The startup received a similar permit in Beijing this past December and has been testing the driverless rides ever since, with the intent to expand into Guangzhou. Pony.ai has previously shared that the robotaxis are also being used to “lay the groundwork for future driverless applications and commercial operations.” They are developing “robotrucks” after all.
The startup said it has already logged over 620,000 miles of robotaxi rides without any safety personnel present. No word yet on where where might see Pony.ai’s robotaxis roll out to yet. Perhaps we will see true driverless rides in Arizona soon and can arrange a test ride of ourselves. Working on it!
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