Pony.ai raises $400 million from Toyota to accelerate autonomous driving development
Pony.ai, an autonomous driving company, announced that it has raised $400 million from Toyota Motor Corporation to deepen and expand the two companies’ collaboration in mobility services. The investment comes as an extension of a business partnership that was formed between the two companies in 2019. Building upon the foundation established last year, both companies say they will further advance their joint efforts in autonomous driving technology development and mobility service deployment. The new funding totals $462 million and puts Pony.ai’s valuation at just over $3 billion.
The strengthened ties aim to enable deeper integration of Pony.ai's autonomous driving system with Toyota's vehicle platforms and technologies. In August 2019, the two companies initiated joint autonomous driving pilots in China. This year’s strategic investment will expand the partnership’s scope of collaboration. In addition to co-developing autonomous driving technology, the companies will look beyond the vehicle itself to explore further possibilities on mobility services.
Pony.ai has been testing its Robotaxi pilot service, PonyPilot, since late 2018 in Guangzhou, China. With this service, it was the first reported company to launch a Robotaxi operation and offer self-driving car rides to the general public in China. In November 2019, the company says it also became the first company to roll out a public-facing Robotaxi pilot service in California.
Going forward, the two companies will continue to work together to deliver on their shared vision of a safe and sustainable mobility future.
This follows news from CES that Pony.ai is collaborating with ON Semiconductor to develop next-generation image sensing and processing technologies for machine vision to enhance the reliability and scalability of mass-produced autonomous vehicles.
“The camera is a critical sensing component for autonomous vehicles,” said Leo Wang, Pony.ai’s VP of Engineering and GM of its U.S. Headquarters. “Image sensors and processors in cameras today are primarily built for human vision, but could potentially generate significantly more information for machine learning applications, such as autonomous driving. Combining ON’s unmatched expertise in image sensing and processing with Pony.ai’s deep autonomous driving vehicle knowledge, we will work toward elevating the perception performance of autonomous vehicles and accelerating the industrialization of self-driving technologies.”
ON Semiconductor says it has developed a leading position in the automotive sector through its innovative products and solutions in imaging, radar, LiDAR, and ultrasonic sensing. The company offers all four sensor modalities key to autonomous driving’s perception systems. Pony.ai is leveraging ON’s image sensing and processing chips to capture and process a large amount of camera data everyday with its global autonomous fleet. Utilizing data-driven algorithms, the next-generation image sensing and processing models could maximize information from cameras and vastly expand the perception capabilities of autonomous vehicles.
“We are thrilled by the promise and potential of collaborating with Pony.ai on autonomous vehicles for robotaxi fleets,” said Ross Jatou, VP and GM of the Automotive Solutions Division in the Intelligent Sensing Group at ON Semiconductor. “The development, realization, and evolution of systems like Pony.ai’s autonomous driving solution requires engineering and technical expertise in intelligent sensing. Combining ON’s deep understanding of image, radar, and LiDAR sensor modalities with Pony.ai’s pioneering work in autonomous driving, we are able to advance imaging technology through artificial intelligence and realize the benefits of autonomous driving technology.”
For more information, visit https://pony.ai/en/index.html.