Pony.ai to form autonomous truck JV with Sunny Heavy Truck in China – TechCrunch

Sunny Heavy Truck, a subsidiary of Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer Sunny Heavy Industry, is working on a strategic partnership with strategic vehicle company Pony.ai to create an independent vehicle brand.

The plan combines Pony.ai’s “virtual driver” with Sunny’s technical prowess to build heavy-duty vehicles that combine automotive-grade, self-driving cars with Level 4 autonomy so that the vehicles can drive without a car in certain situations. To interfere with man. The JV’s autonomous truck product portfolio includes a mix of “new energy vehicles” such as electric trucks and diesel-powered trucks, the company said.

Liang Linhe, chairman of SANY Heavy Truck, said, “This collaboration between SANY and Pony.ai is the ultimate collaboration between the truck ‘body’ and the truck ‘brain’, enabling mass production of high-end autonomous vehicles.” press release.

The JV, which doesn’t yet have a brand name, will start making small deliveries of the robot trucks this year and next, and begin mass production in 2024, Poni said. The company expects to achieve an annual production of around 10,000 trucks in a few years.

Sunny and Pony have begun road testing the first prototype of the JV, built on Sunny’s new EV truck platform, Pony said. Like all of JV’s future autonomous cars, the prototype is powered by Pony’s Autonomous Driver Controller, which is part of Nvidia’s Drive Orin self-driving toolkit.

The move shows that Pony.ai, which is technically headquartered in San Francisco, is investing more time and resources into its work in China. The startup, which builds and deploys robotaxis, recently lost its license to deploy driverless autonomous vehicles in California. In December 2021, Pony’s license to test its driverless vehicles was suspended in California. In China, however, Pony recently filed for a taxi license to operate a commercial robotaxi service in Guangzhou and to offer driverless rides to the public in Beijing.

In November of last year, Pony.ai merged its self-driving truck and passenger car R&D teams, leaving at least two executives from the trucking group in the process. Sources who spoke to TechCrunch on condition of anonymity told TechCrunch that the startup’s trucking operations in the US have been suspended, but trials are continuing in China.

Earlier this year, Pony announced another JV with Sinotrans, one of China’s leading logistics and freight forwarding companies, to build a modern logistics network with autonomous driving technologies. The so-called JV, Syntron, began operations in April.

Pony said in a statement on Thursday that its strategy for launching robot tracking is to create partnerships with major trucking and logistics companies to create a framework for future development, so we expect to see more JVs in the future.

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