(Yicai Global) May 18 -- Autonomous car startup Pony.AI said it has become the second Chinese firm after internet giant Baidu to receive authorization to test self-driving vehicles in Beijing with a driver on board.
Pony.AI will conduct tests of its autonomous vehicles with a driver present on public roads in the capital’s Haidian and Yizhuang districts, the Guangzhou- and Silicon Valley-based company said on its WeChat account today. It will focus on online car hailing and shuttle service tests.
The new licenses follow an injection of USD400 million from Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor in February as part of a drive to introduce self-driving vehicles on Beijing and Shanghai’s roads. Founded in 2016, the startup is now valued at around USD3 billion.
Last December, Beijing became the third city after Shanghai and Guangzhou to release rules for self-driving tests accompanied by a driver. The regulations require test conductors to provide proof that their vehicles have travelled 100,000 kilometers on test roads before allowing qualified staff to man them. Pony.AI’s five test vehicles drove a total of 114,700 km last year.
The first batch of 40 licenses was given to Baidu last December. One of Pony.AI’s founders, James Peng, was chief architect at Baidu’s autonomous driving unit. The firm already has permits to test smart self-driving vehicles in Guangzhou and California.
Editor: Kim Taylor