Pony.ai announced on November 25 in Beijing that it had received approval to run paid autonomous Robotaxi services in the Beijing Intelligent Networked Vehicle Policy Pilot Zone in southeastern Beijing. With this approval, Pony.ai will be permitted to charge fees for Robotaxi services provided to the public. This represents a significant milestone on the company’s path to commercialization, as Pony.ai’s passenger car business has officially moved from the testing to the commercialization stage. Beijing, China’s capital city, is the first Tier-1 city in China to clarify Robotaxi commercialization, allowing self-driving companies to charge for their autonomous services.
After obtaining the commercial license, PonyPilot+, which previously operated as a free service on a regular basis in Beijing’s high-level autonomous driving demonstration zone (in Yizhuang, Beijing), will transition from a free experience to a fee-based service. The PonyPilot+ commercialization pilot area covers central areas of Yizhuang (60 square kilometers / 23.1 square miles) with about 200 travel stations in residential areas, commercial centers, and science and technology parks, with service hours operating from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm.
Through the mobile app and the in-car interface PonyHI, the self-driving Robotaxis will bring a safe, comfortable and convenient travel experience to the public. Passengers will be able to view their itinerary costs in both the mobile app and the in-car interactive interface PonyHI, and will be able to complete payment by scanning the QR code through Alipay or WeChat.
“Supportive policies, development of safe technology, and public acceptance are the keys to accelerating commercialization of the autonomous driving industry, and Pony.ai has conducted abundant testing of the application scenarios and product forms of autonomous driving over the past five years,” said James Peng, Co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “With the commencement of this new policy, we will be able to validate Pony.ai’s commercialization model. These permits mark the next stage in the development of autonomous driving technology,” he added.
“The development of emerging technologies is transforming our mobility at a faster speed than we could have imagined. Today, our autonomous driving technology has advanced beyond conventional driving scenarios, demonstrating the technological capability to handle more complex driving scenarios and at a larger scale,” said Tiancheng Lou, Co-founder and CTO of Pony.ai.