Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to a partnership with Chinese-autonomous-driving company, Pony.ai that will allow Pony.ai to compete in the autonomous-driving market against rivals, including Alphabet Inc.’s U.S. project with Waymo.
Pony.ai and Toyota will initially partner on a pilot project that has the goal of accelerating both the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles. A press statement by Pony.ai, said that the companies would start a pilot project that uses Pony.ai’s autonomous driving system in Toyota’s Lexus RX vehicles. The pilot project will be conducted on public roads in both Beijing and Shanghai and will be monitored by t representatives from the government. Pony.ai is one of the leading companies in the autonomous driving space in China, and in June the company received “Robotaxi Operation Permits” for use in California. The company was founded in 2016, raised $300 million USD in funding as of April 2019, and has a current (Sept. 1) valuation of $1.7 billion USD.
For Toyota, the tie-up with Pony.ai will allow the company to accelerate its activities in China. The company wants to become “a mobility company firmly rooted in China” and has said that it plans to accelerate its business in China through collaboration and investment in local companies, especially those with a focus on emerging transportation development in autonomous-driving vehicles, electric vehicles and new transport service solutions.
Toyota had announced in July that the company would invest $600 million USD in Didi Chuxing, China’s leading ride-hailing company. Toyota has also announced that it would participate in Baidu Inc’s. Apollo, self-driving platform.