Self-driving technology startup Pony.ai announced Thursday that it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars using heavy industry equipment manufacturing giant Sunny.
BEIJING – Self-driving technology startup Pony.ai announced Thursday that it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars in China through equipment manufacturing giant Sunny Heavy Industry.
According to the press release, annual production will reach about 10,000 trucks “in a few years”. Small-scale deliveries are due to begin this year and next, with mass production expected to begin in 2024.
The trucks will come with “Level 4” autonomous driving technology that will enable full self-driving on highways and city roads, Pony.ai reports. “L4” is part of an industry classification system that indicates full self-driving under certain conditions.
According to current laws in China, robot trucks cannot operate fully autonomously.
Pony.ai only has a license to test autonomous cars in Beijing and Guangzhou. But the company said it expects to operate L4 trucks in China.
Pony.ai’s autonomous driving system uses Nvidia’s Drive Orin chip, which is similar to Chinese electric car companies that offer driver-assistive driving technology.
Some, but not all, of the proposed trucks will be “new energy vehicles,” a category that includes electric vehicles.
Pony.ai declined Thursday to share more information about the cost of each truck and whether the trucks will be available only in China.
While Sunny has offices worldwide, Pony.ai also operates in the U.S. The Robotruk mass production agreement is part of a strategic partnership between Pony.ai and Sany Heavy Truck, a Sany subsidiary.
Analysts expect robot trucks to pick up faster than robotaxis because trucks on highways are generally similar. Daily truck drives typically last for hours and are very short taxi rides.