On September 27, Chinese self-driving startup Pony.ai announced that it had reached a working agreement with the AI LAB under SAIC, one of China’s four largest automobile manufacturers, to explore fields such as the R&D of self-driving technology and the implementation of Robotaxi operation services.
The two sides have jointly built a fully unmanned autonomous concept vehicle based on SAIC’s Marvel-R electric SUV model. The concept car was also unveiled on September 27 in Shanghai’s “No Man’s Land” Demonstration & Experience Zone and began providing driverless ride-hailing service. In the future, the two sides will jointly build and scale up driverless fleets meant for large-scale commercial operations.
Based on the results of the joint research and development of SAIC AI LAB and Pony.ai, the concept car is equipped with the latest generation of L4-level unmanned autonomous driving solutions, and adopts a new generation of intelligent console design, such as auto-level sensors and a foldable steering wheel, offering a glimpse at what the future might hold in terms of technology. The vehicle carries a total of 17 sensors, which work together to see around the vehicle and form an overlapping field of view in order to eliminate blind areas. The visual range covers a range of 360 degrees and 200 meters. Furthermore, the vehicle sports a compact, elegant and streamlined design.
In addition, the two sides will also cooperate in the fields of automobile chassis, intelligent consoles, Human Machine Interfaces (HMI), remote control and other intelligent driving technologies to jointly promote the implementation of Shanghai’s unmanned driving policy.
Pony.ai had set up a R&D center in Shanghai back in July 2020 and has been a part of the rapid development in the city since then. In July 2021, its Robotaxi service started demo operations in the city’s Jiading district, covering the main urban sections of that area. In November of the same year, the startup further expanded its self-driving fleet and eventually opened up its Robotaxi service to the public. The cooperation between the two side this time will speed up the upgrade and commercial application of Pony.ai’s autonomous driving technology and promote the development of smart travel in the future.
Chinese technology companies are accelerating their development of unmanned driving technology. According to public data, there are currently more than 10 companies engaged in the Robotaxi business in the country, among which SAIC, Baidu, Pony.ai and WeRide have started commercialization, and have started pilot operations in cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.
According to McKinsey & Company’s forecast, China is likely the world’s largest market for self-driving cars. By 2030, the total sales of self-driving cars will reach $ 230 billion, and orders for travel services based on self-driving will reach $260 billion.