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California DMV Suspends Pony.ai Driverless Testing Permit After Small Crash

Founded in 2015 by two former Baidu developers, Pony.ai is the first company to test driverless vehicles on public roads in both the United States and China. After getting approval to test autonomous vehicles in California in May 2021, the company has been stripped of its driverless permit following a crash with a center divider in Fremont, California.
Pony.ai autonomous vehicle 7 photos
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According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the autonomous vehicle suffered moderate damage to the front and undercarriage. There were no injuries and no other vehicles involved, but nevertheless, the DMV has removed Toyota-backed Pony.ai from its list of driverless permit holders.

No fewer than 10 examples of the Hyundai Kona were previously registered under the driverless permit. At the present moment, Pony.ai is authorized to test autonomous vehicles with a driver behind the steering wheel. Pony.ai wants to roll out a robotaxi service in California next year, which is why the suspended permit is pretty troublesome for the American startup.

Founded by James Peng and Tiancheng Lou, the Fremont-based outfit is duking it out with the likes of Google Waymo, the Ford- and Volkswagen-backed Argo AI, and GM’s Cruise over the lucrative robotaxi business. Care to guess what all of these companies have in common? In addition to driverless technology, they also share missed targets and downsized plans.

Pony.ai has covered more than 750,000 miles (1,207,008 kilometers) in California since 2017, but nevertheless, fully driverless technology still has a long way to go. Elon Musk famously said that Tesla FSD will have Level 5 autonomy by the end of 2021, yet the Texas-based automaker limits the Full Self-Driving suite to Level 2. Why is that, you’re asking? Because it’s the driver’s responsibility to stay alert in Level 2-equipped vehicles. In other words, the company would get off scot-free in the event of a crash.

According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, there are six levels of automation to speak of. Level 0 is fully manual like your grandpa’s truck, while Level 5 automation does not require human supervision at all. As a matter of fact, Level 5 cars are not required steering wheels or pedals.

 Download attachment: California DMV Pony.ai crash report (PDF)

 
 
 
 
 

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