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Pony.ai takes to Shanghai streets with self-driving cars Pony.ai takes to Shanghai streets with self-driving cars
Pony.ai, one of China’s leading autonomous vehicle (AV) firms, has announced it will be beta testing self-driving cars as part of its bid to... Pony.ai takes to Shanghai streets with self-driving cars

Pony.ai, one of China’s leading autonomous vehicle (AV) firms, has announced it will be beta testing self-driving cars as part of its bid to become a leader in the competitive market.

The AV start-up, founded by former Baidu developers, James Peng and Lou Tiancheng, announced Saturday that it would be working with city officials to roll-out a fleet of AVs in the Jiading District in Shanghai.

The announcement was made at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai. The event also featured Tesla owner, Elon Musk, who delivered a virtual speech focusing on AI and Level 5 autonomy.

Pony.ai, with headquarters in Silicon valley and Guangzhou, received a significant financial boost in February when it secured US$400 million in a Series B investment headed by the Japanese auto giant, Toyota.

Pony’s move to cooperate with the city of Shanghai could be seen as a statement of intent from the four-year-old start-up. The city has made itself an ideal testing hub for AV pilot programmes as one of the first cities worldwide to fully embrace and adopt 5G. Shanghai was also one of the planet’s first cities to issue AV permits for Didi, SAIC and BMW pilot-programmes.

An emerging technology, AV tech is expensive and, for the time being, mass production is a distant goal. A custom-built Didi AV Volvo, for example, is equipped with seven cameras, 20 sensors, three Lidar systems, and radar costs nearly US$150 000. Didi has said it would have one million AVs in operation at the end of the decade.

The Pony.ai fleet, consisting of around 100 vehicles, has racked up more than 2.5 million kilometres of test time. According to the California annual self-driving report, Pony.ai is one of three Chinese AV companies in the top ten for most test miles logged. Other Chinese groups that feature on the California self-driving report are Didi and Alibaba-funded, AutoX. AutoX has also started beta testing in Shanghai.

R&D site lead at Pony.ai Beijing, Li Hengyu, believes China’s infrastructure push is aiding AV technology’s progress. China has spent $140 billion on new infrastructure projects this year alone.

WhyChinese

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