Toyota partners with China's Pony.ai for autonomous car technology

Pony.ai has already begun tests locally in China, but the Toyota partnership may be a major boost.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
Toyota Pony.ai self-driving car prototype

Beijing residents will see these around town next month.


Toyota has selected a partner for self-driving and autonomous car technology in China. On Monday, Chinese startup Pony.ai announced it would collaborate with Toyota on future technology.

The overarching goal is to provide "safe mobility services for all," per the Monday release. Pony.ai has operated a self-driving ride-hailing service in a pilot program in Guangzhou; the Toyota partnership will see Pony.ai technology tackle public roads in Beijing, according to Automotive News. The will serve as the test vehicle with Pony.ai providing the self-driving systems and technology.

This past June, the Chinese company also received a permit to test self-driving cars in California. Neither Toyota or Pony.ai mentioned upcoming autonomous car tests in the US, however. The Chinese startup also operates an office in Silicon Valley and has received $300 million in investments. The company said the figure makes it the most valuable Chinese autonomous driving startup.

While Toyota works closely with Pony.ai, it also has additional Chinese interests in the self-driving vehicle segment. This past July, Toyota said it will work with Chinese automaker Geely and technology company Baidu on an open-source self-driving technology platform. 

The project, primarily Baidu's work, is called Apollo and Toyota will use a version of the technology platform for its production E-Palette at some point in the future. We'll first catch the E-Palette in motion at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, but it's unlike to run on the Apollo project's technology.

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