Chinese driverless car start-up Pony.ai has launched a new delivery service in Irvine, California using its autonomous vehicles as people remain stuck at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Last year, the company launched a robo-taxi service in Irvine in partnership with Hyundai using the South Korean automaker’s cars equipped with Pony.ai technology. That driverless taxi service was suspended after a “shelter-in-place” order was issued in northern California in March.
Seeking to turn “lemons into lemonade,” the company has repurposed its fleet of 10 vehicles for deliveries and teamed up with e-commerce site Yamibuy for the initiative.
Yamibuy has a variety of products on its site — from food to drinks and cosmetics.
Once a customer in the Irvine area places an order on Yamibuy, an autonomous car will pick up the package and deliver it to the destination. The customer can either come to the car to collect it or an operator, who will be in the car, will drop it off at the doorstep.
According to Pony.ai, the whole process is contactless, and the company’s current fleet of 10 cars can deliver between 500 to 700 packages a day.