Pony.ai is China's first autonomous car firm with a taxi licence

Pony.ai is China’s first autonomous car firm with a taxi licence

Pony.ai has been granted permission to operate its self-driving taxi service in China, making it the first business to do so. Beginning in May, the Toyota-backed robotaxi service will run 100 autonomous vehicles in Guangzhou’s Nansha area before expanding to other parts of the city.

Pony.ai claims that passengers can hail and pay for rides using the company’s app from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and that its tariffs will be in line with “normal taxi pricing” in Guangzhou. For safety reasons, the driverless vehicles will also have a driver present, but they will be phased out over a “short-to-intermediate time period.”

The Chinese business received authorisation – but not a licence – to operate 67 vehicles in Beijing in November. It has also been striving to develop a foothold in the United States, a prospect that was hampered when one of its autonomous vehicles crashed in California, resulting in the suspension of its permission. Since 2017, the business has been testing its vehicles in the state, and last year it got authorization to operate its vehicles without drivers.

Pony.ai claims to have conducted over 700,000 journeys since April 2022, with nearly 80% of riders being repeat customers.