What’s Happening: Autonomous driving company Pony.ai has become the first and only firm to obtain a permit for completely driverless passenger transport in Guangzhou, China. In a 310 square mile area of the city’s Nansha District, customers can order fully driverless robotaxis through the PonyPilot+ app to destinations like high-speed rail stations, subway stops, parks, and business and residential areas.
Why It Matters: This development marks a significant milestone for the autonomous vehicle industry in China, with Pony.ai now holding fully driverless, public-facing robotaxi permits in both Beijing and Guangzhou. It also signals a growing acceptance of autonomous transportation in the country.
- Pony.ai started driverless testing in Guangzhou in June 2021 and has nearly two years of experience in the city.
- The company has tested its vehicles in various weather conditions and complex road scenarios.
- Pony.ai’s next-generation robotaxi model, based on the Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS (S-AM) model, has obtained test licenses in Beijing and Guangzhou and is currently being tested on the road.
- The S-AM model has passed the necessary exams and expert review for a driverless permit, with driverless robotaxi services expected to commence soon.
- As of April 2023, Pony.ai has accumulated over 13 million miles of autonomous driving globally, more than 621,000 miles of driverless testing, and nearly 200,000 fee-charging robotaxi orders.
Bottom Line: Pony.ai’s recent permit to operate fully driverless robotaxi services in Guangzhou highlights the company’s growing expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the autonomous vehicle space. With this achievement, Pony.ai solidifies its position as a leader in autonomous transportation, paving the way for further expansion and adoption of driverless technologies in China and beyond.