China’s Waymo challenger Pony.ai hits the accelerator to speed up to a robotaxi fleet of 200–South China Morning Post

What happened: At the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai yesterday, autonomous driving startup Pony.ai announced that it plans to expand its fleet of self-driving taxis to 200. The company aims to have around 100 vehicles each in China and the US by early next year. Company co-founder and chief executive James Peng didn’t provide a specific date, but the expansion would be a significant step up from its current 20 taxis. According to Peng, Pony.ai’s current goal is to “build a fleet” and “achieve scalability.” Additional vehicles would help provide more data, and push the company further towards commercialization.

Why it’s important: Alphabet’s Waymo currently leads the autonomous taxi pack, and in March ordered 62,000 more minivans for its fleet. Although Pony.ai still lags far behind, Peng showed confidence in the company’s ability for “fast iteration” in a field with vast potential for development. But it may be a rough road ahead – Pony.ai has to contend not only with international competitors, but also startups like Jingchi as well as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

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Bailey Hu

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.