Pony.ai, the first autonomous driving company to get a Chinese taxi license

James Peng, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pony.ai

Pony.ai, the global autonomous driving tech company, announced it is the first and only autonomous driving (AD) company to obtain a taxi license in China. Pony.ai was awarded a permit to operate 100 autonomous vehicles as traditional taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou.

What are the specifics of Pony.ai’s license in Guangzhou?

In May, Pony.ai will start charging fares in the entire 800 sq. kms of Nansha with 100 robotaxis and plans to expand the service to other areas of Guangzhou to benefit more residents. Passengers can hail rides and pay for the service through the PonyPilot+ App.

The robotaxis will operate daytime and night time with service hours from 8:30 to 22:30 and with fares based on the standard taxi pricing in Guangzhou. While the robotaxi has a safety driver, the company expects to remove the driver over the short to intermediate time frame.

This signals the Guangzhou gov’t’s implementation of AD mobility services similar to traditional taxi and ride-hailing platforms. The news reinforces Pony.ai’s progress toward commercial autonomy: with the robotaxi fee-charging permit received in Beijing in Nov 2021, Pony.ai is the solely approved for AD commercialization services in two Tier-1 cities in China.

What is Pony.ai’s future plans in China?

With successful commercialization in Beijing and Guangzhou, Pony.ai will expand its robotaxi footprint to the other two Tier-1 cities in China next year and to more cities by the start of Pony.ai’s mass commercialization planned for 2024/2025. Pony.ai currently has autonomous vehicle testing and operations in all four of China’s Tier-1 cities and California in the USA.

Pony.ai had to pass stringent safety and other multifaceted vehicle qualification tests set forth by national inspection institutions, like having at least 24 months of AD testing in China or other countries, at least 1 million kms of testing mileage, at least 200,000kms of AD testing within Guangzhou’s test area, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents.

Pony.ai is the first and only autonomous driving company to have met all of these requirements and standards. “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 Chief Executive Officer 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 in this space,” Peng further commented.

“The inclusion of autonomous vehicles in the unified and standardized management of taxis proves that both government policy and the public are increasingly accepting robotaxis as a form of everyday transportation, recognizing the ride experience and technical stability of Pony.ai’s robotaxi,” said Tiancheng Lou, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Pony.ai.

From the launch of Pony.ai’s robotaxi app in December 2018 through the commercialization of robotaxi services in both Beijing and Guangzhou, Pony.ai has continuously improved and upgraded all aspects of the consumer experience of robotaxi services.

As of mid-April 2022, Pony.ai’s Robotaxi service has completed more than 700,000 orders, with nearly 80% repeat users and 99% of the passengers giving positive comments after completing their trips – and a service satisfaction rating reaching 4.9 on a 5-point scale.