Pony.ai has received a license to operate its autonomous taxi service in China, making it the first company to win the country’s approval (via Reuters). Starting in May, the Toyota-backed robotaxi service will operate 100 autonomous vehicles in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, and will later expand to serve other portions of the city.
Pony.ai says riders can hail and pay for rides from the company’s app between 8:30AM to 10:30PM, and that its fares will align with the “standard taxi pricing” in Guangzhou. The autonomous vehicles will also have a driver present in the car for safety purposes, but plans to remove them over a “short to intermediate time frame.”
In November, the Chinese startup gained approval — but not a license — to operate 67 vehicles in Beijing. It’s also been working to establish a presence in the US, a prospect set back after one of its autonomous vehicles crashed in California, resulting in its permit getting suspended. The company had been testing its vehicles in the state since 2017 and received a permit to operate its vehicles without drivers last year.
Pony.ai says it has completed over 700,000 trips since April 2022, and almost 80 percent of riders are repeat customers.