China’s Pony.ai to integrate Luminar’s Iris sensor into robotaxi fleet

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Pony.ai, a leading  autonomous driving technology company, has introduced a new, more slimline sensing platform designed in collaboration with Luminar Technologies Inc. The Chinese ride-hailing service provider has also announced that it has driven more than 5,000,000km across an operational coverage area of over 850km² and provided more than 220,000 robotaxi rides.

Pony.ai is set to deploy automotive-grade production autonomous fleets in 2023 globally. Its next-generation robotaxi fleet will seamlessly integrate Luminar’s Iris sensor, already chosen by Volvo Cars for the latest version of the XC90 due to launch in 2022, as well as SAIC’s new R brand electric vehicles.

Iris will enable Pony.ai to install a multisensor 360° configuration featuring a super-slim roofline profile – at just 10cm off the vehicle roof. The goal of the partnership is to increase safe, autonomous driving in complex urban environments with an integrated sensor design that leads advanced development to production scale.

“Partnering with Luminar is a critical enabling milestone for Pony.ai as we build our next-generation system and prepare for large-scale series production,” said James Peng, CEO and founder of Pony.ai. “Luminar is in a league of its own when it comes to lidar and shares our belief that delivering autonomous mobility globally will enable a safe and sustainable future. We’re excited to realize that vision together with them.”

The partnership followed Pony.ai’s expansion of its robotaxi service across five cities in China and the USA, including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, and Irvine and Fremont in California. Pony.ai began testing China’s first robotaxi service, PonyPilot, in late 2018 in Guangzhou, and in 2019 became the first company to roll out a public-facing robotaxi service in California. Founded in late 2016, Pony.ai says it is the only self-driving company with large-scale deployment across five cities internationally and a fleet of over 200 autonomous vehicles.

“Pony.ai’s vision to create a dynamic, vehicle-agnostic autonomous driving system is very impressive, and it has already demonstrated a clear leadership position for Robotaxi development in China and beyond,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. “We’re leveraging the full extent of the technology and product development work we’ve accomplished over the years, and directly reapplying it to Pony.ai’s platform and fleet. This partnership marks a significant milestone toward the realization of safe autonomous Robotaxi services in the years to come.”

“Today, we’re finally seeing the line blur between what we’ve known as beautiful consumer car design and the look of a robotaxi,” concluded Jason Wojack, Luminar’s SVP of product development. “This is a true moment in the evolution of vehicle design and innovation.”

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With over 20 years experience in editorial management and content creation for multiple, market-leading titles at UKi Media & Events (publisher of Autonomous Vehicle International), Anthony has written articles and news covering everything from aircraft, airports and cars, to cruise ships, trains, trucks and even tires!

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