Pony.ai partners to mass produce self-driving cars as Series C brings valuation to $5.3B

The Robot Report

Pony.ai today announced that it has completed Series C fundraising of $267 million, which brings its valuation to more than $5.3 billion. The company also said that new partner China FAW Group Co. has invested in joint development of autonomous vehicles.

Pony.ai has offices in Fremont, Calif., as well as Irvine, Calif.; Beijing; and Guangzhou, China. The company said it has been working on robotic taxicabs and trucks for both the U.S. and Chinese markets, logging more than 3.5 million kilometers (2.1 million miles) annually. It has been showing its “full stack” of hardware and software on Jiefang’s J7 platform at the third China International Import Expo.

In addition, Pony.ai noted that it has autonomously delivered more than 15,000 packages of food and health kits in California during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Addressing community needs will continue to drive our mission in developing safe and reliable self-driving cars,” said the company. “Deeply rooted in our company are values that foster Pony.ai’s care and commitment to improving the safety and lives of others through the development of autonomous technology and deliver it at large scale.”

Pony.ai autonomous delivery

Pony.ai has addressed community needs in California. Source: Pony.ai

Pony.ai names investors and another partner

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) led the round, with participation from existing partners Fidelity China Special Situations PLC, 5Y Capital (formerly Morningside Venture Capital), Clearvue Partners, Eight Roads, and others. The OTPP is the administrator of Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan, with CAD 204.7 billion ($157.78 billion U.S.) in net assets.

“We see a significant global opportunity for autonomous vehicle technology,” said Olivia Steedman, senior managing director, Teachers’ Innovation Platform, at OTPP. “Pony.ai’s leading technology and deep, strategic understanding of the sector have helped to position the company as a leader in this space.”

Pony.ai, which was founded in 2016, previously raised $400 million from Toyota Motor Corp. This investment puts Pony.ai in the same league as competitors Cruise and Waymo, noted Bloomberg. The company has also added automotive manufacturer China FAW to its partnerships.

“We will give full play to the technical and product advantages in vehicle design and manufacturing, V2X [vehicle-to-everything communications], to mobility as a service,” Pony.ai said in a blog post. “Moreover, we will work closely together to integrate advanced autonomous driving systems and vehicle platforms to explore the advantages of L4 autonomous driving systems. We will engage in pre-installation mass production and business operations models while strengthening collaboration to accelerate the development and implementation of autonomous driving technology.”

Pony.ai said it expects its latest funding and partnership to help it grow and more quickly develop autonomous vehicles.

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Source: therobotreport

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