Photo credit: Pony.ai
Pony.ai, an autonomous driving company based in the US and China, has received a permit to operate fully driverless passenger transport vehicles in a Guangzhou district that covers 803 square kilometers.
Last month, the startup also got the green light to offer this service in Beijing. Only one other firm – Baidu – has obtained this permit.
Bookings can be made through the PonyPilot+ app, on which users choose their destination, customize the color of their robotaxi’s welcome light, scan the QR code on the rear door to unlock the car, and buckle their seat belt to start the ride.
Pony.ai, which started testing its vehicles in Guangzhou in June 2021, has racked up nearly two years of driverless experience in the city. The company said its vehicles have driven safely under unfavorable weather conditions such as rain and thunderstorms, in addition to navigating narrow roads and intersections.
As of this month, Pony.ai has logged over 21 million kilometers of autonomous driving globally and almost 200,000 fee-charging robotaxi orders.
Founded in late 2016 by ex-Baidu engineers Tiancheng Lou and James Peng, the startup has since formed partnerships with firms such as Toyota, SAIC, and FAW Group.
See also: Roadblocks stall Singapore’s driverless car dreams