Pony.ai, the autonomous vehicle company, has raised a $102m follow on Series A round. Eight Roads participated alongside ClearVue Partners and other existing investors, including Sequoia Capital China. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $214M.
Since its last round of funding, the Pony.ai team has tripled in size and continues to grow rapidly. In February, Pony.ai soft-launched an autonomous ride-hailing fleet in Guangzhou, becoming the first company ever to offer fully self-driving car rides to the general public in China. To date, the fleet has already given over a thousand rides covering an area of roughly 30 kilometers2 (19 miles2). In addition to fleet expansion, team growth, and supporting existing and new partnerships, this round of capital will be used to accelerate Pony.ai’s entry into commercialization.
Last month, Pony.ai became the first startup to secure an AV (autonomous vehicle) testing license in Beijing. In a span of ten days, Pony.ai was able to fulfill all requirements for the T3 license—the highest-level license issued in China to date. In addition to logging no less than 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles) autonomously in a closed site of public roads, test criteria include 39 distinct capabilities split across six categories. These categories cover not only autonomous driving ability but also safety and in-vehicle procedures. Similar to DMV road tests for human drivers, Pony.ai vehicles were required to demonstrate capability in a series of road scenarios ranging from the simple to complex. These items include anything from right and left hand turns to high-volume traffic roundabouts. Driving capability, safety, and vehicle operations were holistically evaluated before a testing permit was issued.