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Robotaxi firm Pony.ai granted first taxi licence in China

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Image: Business Wire

Pony.ai has announced that it has obtained a taxi license in China, a first for a self-driving company in the Middle Kingdom.

The permit will allow Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving vehicles as traditional taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., with fares charged according to the city’s standard taxi prices. Passengers will be able to hail rides and pay for the service through the PonyPilot+ app.

The robotaxis will operate with a “safety driver” behind the wheel, but the company plans to phase out the driver in the short to medium term, while gradually expanding the scale and scope of the service to other parts of Guangzhou.

“Being the first self-driving vehicle company in China to receive a taxi license is a testament to Pony.ai’s technological strength and ability to operate robotaxi services,” said Pony.ai co-founder and CEO James Peng. .

“We will expand the scope of our services, provide quality travel experiences to the Guangzhou public, create an industry benchmark for robotaxi services, and continue to lead the commercialization of robotaxis and robots.

To qualify for the license, the company said, it had to pass “rigorous safety tests and other multi-faceted vehicle qualification tests,” including having at least 24 months of self-driving tests in China and around the world. other countries, at least one million kilometers of test mileage, at least 200,000 kilometers of self-driving test in Guangzhou designated test area, and no involvement in active fault traffic accidents.

This latest permit follows Pony.ai, which is backed by Toyota, granting a fee-based robotaxi license in Beijing in November last year.

With these two licenses, Pony.ai announced plans to expand operations to two more major cities in China next year. The company added that it was also testing in California.

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