Tech company Pony.ai has been granted a taxi license and became the first self-driving taxi, also called robotaxi, company in China to get such license.
The move will allow it to operate a fleet of the first planned 100 autonomous taxis commercially on the roads in Guangzhou’s Nansha district from May.
The company said on Sunday that the self-driving taxis will operate everyday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and fares will be the same as the city’s taxi standards.
Passengers can hail and pay for rides using Pony.ai mobile application.
On the statement the company published the day before yesterday, it said that human drivers will still be operating behind wheels to take over when necessary. But the company added that it expects drivers will no longer be needed in a short to intermediate time frame that will be announced.
The current operation will cover an entire area of 800 square kilometers in the district, which far surpasses the current trial fleet around cities in China that operates in less than 200 square kilometers.
This announcement is a win for a host of startups that are spending billions of dollars into autonomous technology as it holds the future of mobility.
Pony.ai has been active in the United States and China, testing its driverless technology on public roads in California’s Fremont and Milpitas, as well as the Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Beijing.
Pony.ai was founded in 2016 and completed more than 700,000 rides leveraging its WeChat miniprogram PonyPilot+ since the launch of it’s ride-hailing services in December 2018.