Pony.ai is the first autonomous car company with a taxi license in China

Pony.ai has been licensed to operate its autonomous taxi service in China, making it the first company to receive the country’s approval (via Reuters† Starting in May, the Toyota-backed robot taxi service will operate 100 autonomous vehicles in Guangzhou’s Nansha district, later expanding to other parts of the city.

Pony.ai says riders will be able to book and pay for rides through the company’s app between 8:30 AM and 10:30 PM, and the fares will match “standard taxi fares” in Guangzhou. The autonomous vehicles will also have a driver in the car for safety reasons, but plan to remove them in a “short to medium time frame”.

In November, the Chinese startup received approval — but no license — to operate 67 vehicles in Beijing. It is also working on a US presence, a prospect that was reversed after one of its autonomous vehicles crashed in California, suspending its license. The company has been testing its vehicles in the state since 2017 and was licensed to operate its vehicles without drivers last year.

Pony.ai says it has made more than 700,000 trips since April 2022 and nearly 80 percent of its riders are repeat customers.

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