Pony.ai, a self-driving car startup based in Guangzhou, China, is launching a pilot program to test self-driving cars with a robo taxi service called BotRide.
VentureBeat is reporting that the company has “product-ready” driverless cars in partnership with Hyundai, specifically, the KONA Electric SUV. The cars will have sensor hardware and Pony.ai’s software to navigate.
The company said its technology can identify the behavior of nearby vehicles as well as people, and use its software to safely make its way through urban areas.
The service will verify passengers automatically, and the company said it has about 10 cars right now with human drivers behind the wheel for safety purposes. The service is going to run six days a week, Monday through Saturday, and operate on public roads in a variety of areas.
“The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students. The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment,” said Hyundai Motor Company Head of Business Development Christopher Chang. “We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimize the customer experience. BotRide is another example of Hyundai’s ongoing efforts to actively build expertise in mobility technology as well as the company’s commitment to providing more user-friendly mobility services to customers.”
The company also recently partnered with Toyota in an effort to explore the possibilities of “safe” driverless services throughout different auto industries. There's a plan to start a pilot program in China to “accelerate the development and deployment” of driverless vehicles, using Lexus RX cars.
The company wants to eventually build level 4 autonomous cars, which are able to perform driving operations without the supervision of humans, under most circumstances.
The company has set a goal for that in the next two to three years. Pony.ai uses radars, lidar and cameras to keep track of all obstacles up to 200 meters from the cars.