Startup to Watch: can Pony.ai become a disrupter in the self-driving car industry?
【Summary】Startups are popping up one by one, hoping to grab a share in this booming market of future cars. Pony.ai is one. Futurecar met one of the company’s founding members Leo Wang at the startup demo event held by RobotX Space last Thursday.
In Silicon Valley, self-driving technology is booming like never before. Almost all of the major automakers and tech giants are delving into this field. So far, Google's Waymo has accumulated millions of testing miles on autonomous vehicles; Apple's Titan Project remains secretive yet reportedly ongoing; Uber is just in the center of controversy all for its ambition in advancing driverless technology; and Lyft partners with GM, Nutonomy and many more to speed up ride-sharing autonomous cars.
There's hardly any car company or OEM that is completely unrelated to autonomous driving right now. What's more, startups are popping up one by one, hoping to grab a share in this booming market of future cars. Pony.ai is one.
Futurecar met with one of the company's founding members Leo Wang at the startup demo event held by RobotX Space last Thursday. With their slogan "the road is life", the secretive company is rumored to have gained seed funding from Sequoia Capital and IDG Ventures, and could be valued at $90 million, according to Chinese media QbitAI.
"We were founded in last December, with ambition, to bring the latest breakthrough in AI to the general public. We want to revolutionize the public transportation system...and create the safest, reliable and cost-effective solution for full autonomous driving vehicles." Wang said at the demo speech.
In an interview with Futurecar, he revealed that their team is expanding quickly, with two offices already built in Beijing and Silicon Valley.
"From the technology perspective, we are aiming for level-4 autonomy, and have mainly adopted the sensor fusion technology with a focus on LiDAR. We are now proceeding our research and development in both China and US right now." Wang said.
He revealed that Pony.ai is in the process of applying for self-driving testing permit from California Department of Motor Vehicles. Meanwhile, the startup is testing its vehicle, which is a Lincoln MKZ, in private areas instead of on public roads to collect enough data.
"Lincoln has a complete drive-by-wire system. Its mature platform for software development is sound and robust. Before us a lot of companies have been testing its technology using the car model." Wang said, adding that they also installed Velodyne's LiDAR in the driverless car testing system.
"Instead of focusing on a specific module of autonomous vehicles, our focus is to remodel a car's software and hardware systems to transform it into a self-driving vehicle." he said.
According to Wang, the majority of the team members were ex-Google or ex-Baidu engineers, who not only have years of industrial experience, but also a deep passion for self-driving cars. QbitAI also noted that Lou Tiancheng, dubbed "ACRush", is the major founder of Pony.ai. Tiancheng remains quite low-key, although he was once the senior engineer of Baidu's self-driving car program, and also a very famous coder within the tech geek circle - a two-time winner of Google Code Jam in 2008 and 2009.
Currently, Pony.ai is in talks with companies for long-term partnerships, and look for more talents to join team. He did not release more details in terms of the company's potential cooperations and future plans, but remained confident that Pony.ai differs from other self-driving startups with its leading technology.
Claire Peng has over 6 years of professional experience in the media industry, covering TV, newspaper and online media. She was once a reporter and producer for Fairchild Television based in Toronto Canada, and worked as an English news reporter for the Global Times in Beijing. She writes mainly about self-driving, companies investment, and the enterprise lab.
NYU Releases the Largest LiDAR Dataset to Help Urban Development
July 13th, 2017 News of the Day: Uber merges with Yandex, U.S. to simplify driverless car rules
Hyperloop One Completes Its First Successful Test Run
July 12th, 2017 News of the Day: Faraday to move its factory, Vizio files lawsuit against LeEco
July 11th, 2017 News of the Day: Tesla to triple its service, Porsche posts half-year sales record
Faraday Future Halts Construction of $1 billion Factory in Nevada
July 10th, 2017 News of the Day: China to become Cadillac’s largest market, Oregon adds EV rebate
July 7th, 2017 News of the Day: VW partners with Kuka, Tesla to build battery factory in Australia
- Qualcomm and its Industry Partners Demonstrate C-V2X Technology in Georgia That Ensures School Buses and Fire Trucks Never Get Stuck at Red Lights
- Volvo Cars and Epic Games to Partner on a High-Resolution 3D Digital Driver’s Display Powered by the Unreal Engine
- EV Charging Provider Electrify America Raises $450 Million, Siemens to Become a Minority Shareholder
- Electric Automaker Lucid Group Unveils the Lower Priced Air Pure and Air Touring Models
- Ford Issues ‘Stop Sale’ of the Electric Mustang Mach-E Over Possible Loss of Propulsion While Driving
- Volvo’s Electric Vehicle Brand Polestar Reports $1 Billion in Revenue in the First Half of 2022, Adds 6 New Global Markets
- The World’s Biggest Battery Producer CATL Signs MoU with EV Startup VinFast to Develop a ‘Skateboard’ Electric Vehicle Platform
- BMW Expands i4 Lineup With the Affordable eDrive35
- Amazon Customers in Texas and California Will Begin Receiving Packages via Prime Air Drones Later This Year
- Automotive Supplier MAHLE Developed a Superior Continuous Torque (SCT) Electric Vehicle Motor That Can Run ‘Indefinitely’