Pony.ai has announced it is the first and only autonomous driving (AD) company to obtain a taxi license in China.
It has been awarded a permit to operate 100 autonomous vehicles as traditional taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou. From May, Pony.ai will start charging fares across the whole of Nansha and intends to gradually expand the scale and scope of service to other areas of Guangzhou.
Passengers can hail rides and pay for the service through the PonyPilot+ App. The robotaxis will operate during daytime and night-time, with service hours from 8:30am to 10:30pm and fares based on the standard taxi pricing in Guangzhou. While the Pony.ai robotaxi currently retains a safety driver, the company expects to remove the driver in the relatively near future.
The award of the license signals the Guangzhou government’s formal implementation of AD mobility services similar to traditional taxi and ride-hailing platforms. With successful commercialization in Beijing and Guangzhou, Pony.ai plans to expand its commercialized robotaxi footprint to the other two Tier 1 cities in China, Shanghai and Shenzhen, next year and to more cities by the start of Pony.ai’s mass commercialization planned for 2024/2025.
To qualify for the license, Pony.ai had to pass stringent safety and other multifaceted vehicle qualification tests set forth by national inspection institutions, such as having at least 24 months of AD testing in China and/or other countries, at least 1,000,000km of testing mileage, at least 200,000 kilometers of AD testing within Guangzhou’s designated test area, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents.
“Being China’s first autonomous vehicle company to receive a taxi license is a testament to Pony.ai’s technological strength and ability to operate robotaxi services,” said James Peng, co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “We will expand the scale of our services, provide quality travel experiences to the public in Guangzhou, create an industry benchmark for robotaxi services and continue to lead the commercialization of robotaxis and robotrucks.”