Autonomous Driving Startup Pony.ai Raises $112 Million in Funding
【Summary】Autonomous driving startup Pony.ai said that it has raised an $112 million in early-stage funding round in an effort to pull out in front of many well-funded rivals working on self-driving technology.
FREMONT, Calif., — Autonomous driving startup Pony.ai said that it has raised an $112 million in early-stage funding round in an effort to pull out in front of many well-funded rivals working on self-driving technology.
The Series A round was jointly led by Morningside Ventures and Legend Capital. Seed round lead investor Sequoia China and IDG Capital also participated in the round. Additional investors include Hongtai Capital, Legend Star, Puhua Capital, Polaris Capital, DCM Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Silicon Valley Future Capital and others.
"We are excited and honored to welcome our new group of investors to the team and are grateful for their support!" says co-founder and CEO, James Peng. "Autonomous driving has the potential to bring about massive benefits to society, and we hope to work closely with our outstanding investors to realize this future."
Co-founder and CTO, Tiancheng Lou, adds: "We very much look forward to working with our investors to achieve our mission of bringing the safest and the most reliable autonomous driving technology to market!"
Founded in December of 2016, Pony.ai is building level 4 autonomy technology, a grade of self-driving car technology that delivers "fully autonomous" navigation. The company's mission is to build the safest and most reliable autonomous driving technology. "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." Pony ai co-founder Leo Wang told FutureCar last year.
"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 U.S. right now."
Wang also revealed that their team was expanding quickly, with two offices already built in Beijing and Silicon Valley.
The big funding round has attracted much interest in Silicon Valley, as Pony.ai is not very well known yet and has been quietly operating in stealth mode.
According to Wang, the majority of the company's team members are ex-Google or ex-Baidu engineers, who not only have years of industrial experience, but also a deep passion for self-driving cars.
The company's CTO Dr. Lou Tiancheng is the major founder of Pony.ai but remains quite low-key. He's more commonly known by his handle 'ACRush' in the programming community. Dr. Lou was once the senior engineer of Baidu's self-driving car program, and has become quite a famous coder within tech circles as a two-time winner of Google Code Jam in 2008 and 2009.
The company first started testing self-driving cars on San Francisco Bay area roads following state approval in June, with a number of testing videos released in October show that the technology is being developed quickly.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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