Pony.ai teams up with SAIC AI Lab to develop driverless EV robotaxi

Autonomous vehicle start-up Pony.ai has announced it is partnering with China’s largest auto manufacturer SAIC AI Lab to develop a fully driverless EV robotaxi. The car will be capable of Level 4 autonomous driving and feature a foldable steering wheel.

According to Pony.ai, their concept is based on SAIC Marvel R model and equipped with the latest generation of their self-driving technology.

This includes 17 integrated sensors to create a 360-degree visual range that extends 200 meters, eliminating blind spots around the vehicle, which the company hopes will eventually allow it to reach Level 4 autonomous driving.

Inside the car features an “intelligent cockpit [with] a foldable steering wheel that provides a human-machine interaction experience that significantly advances automobile autonomy,” the company explains.

No timeline was provided for when this driverless EV robotaxi might enter production, but Pony.ai says it will eventually become a “mass-produced, purpose-built vehicle [that] will accelerate the widespread commercial adoption of robotaxi services and autonomous driving technology across multiple cities in China.”

Pony.ai recently received its license to operate a fleet 100 self-driving vehicles as taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou, becoming the first autonomous driving (AD) company to obtain a taxi license in China.

The company is also testing its vehicles in North America, but has faced mixed results. Pony.ai lost its driverless testing permit in California last year following a crash involving one of its vehicles. Subsequently they also lost their permit to test their autonomous vehicles with a safety driver.

Meanwhile, they recently started testing their vehicles in Tuscon, Arizona.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion after its latest funding round earlier this year.

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