Pony.ai confirms another fund-raising drive of $100 million, taking its total cumulatively to $1 billion. The startup operates in the autonomous driving tech segment. The company has a valuation of $5.3 billion, increasing from $3 billion earlier.
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan board has a Teachers’ Innovation Platform, which was the lead investor. There were other participants including 5Y Capital, Fidelity China Special Situations PLC, Eight Roads, ClearVue Partners, and more. Earlier investors include the Brunei sovereign wealth fund, Brunei Investment Agency, Kunlun Wanwei, Toyota Motor Corp, IDG Capital, Sequoia Capital China, and Legend Capital.
Pony.ai has offices at China’s Guangzhou and California. It has the PonyAlpha system for autonomous driving, which enables driverless functioning. The company states that its systems fuse sensors and camera (lidar and radar) with AI software for tracking objects up to 200 meters away. This is easily integrated into existing trucks and cars. The company started its journey in 2016, courtesy of the former Chief Architect at Baidu Inc., James Peng. It is one of the biggest autonomous driving entities with a big partnership pool of companies from the automotive industry, including Toyota. The latter was also a partner on a pilot initiative for using this technology in Lexus RX models.
Hyundai Motor Co. is also a partner for a pilot project pertaining to ride-hailing throughout California. Robert Bosch GmbH is a partner for the maintenance of autonomous vehicles. The company is one of the few to have got its Robo-taxi operational permit, courtesy of the California Public Utilities Commission. Pony.ai wants to develop autonomous cars at level-4, i.e. those which may function without any human intervention in specific and predictable scenarios. It also has a license for vehicle testing on Beijing’s streets. The company is partnering with Via Transportation Inc. and Hyundai for its BotRide service at Nansha in China. This enables people to ride in autonomous electric Hyundai Kona SUVs through mobile applications. It has 10 cars now with human drivers present in the vehicles as well.