Chinese autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai and Toyota will join forces to launch a driverless car test next month on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, Bloomberg reported.
The partnership’s details were not described in the article, but the project represents a vote of confidence in Pony.ai, one of China’s leading self-driving vehicle startups. It’s also an ambitious project and an aggressive timetable in a field littered with ambitious projects that started with aggressive timetables. Those have often not worked out as the difficulties of putting autonomous vehicles in the wild have shown themselves to be more pronounced than expected.
For the latest example, you can read The Information’s dive into rider feedback on tests at Alphabet’s Waymo, the leader in the self-driving car industry. Even that company, which has been testing autonomous cars on public roads for months, is still a long way from starting a practical robotaxi business.
How China’s public responds to adding self-driving cars to the crowded streets of two of the country’s most populous cities remains to be seen, but unless Pony and Toyota know something the rest of the industry doesn’t, expect this project to take a bit longer to meet its objectives than expected.