Toyota to pilot autonomous vehicle program with Chinese startup [Video]

Pony.ai and Toyota collaborate for future of autonomous mobility (photo courtesy of Pony.ai)

Toyota Motor Corp. has struck a deal with Chinese startup Pony.ai to launch an autonomous vehicle program next month in Beijing and Shanghai, the companies announced on Monday.

Pony.ai will build its autonomous driving system into Toyota’s Lexus RX vehicles. The companies will start the pilot project as they “attempt to accelerate the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles,” according to a press release. 

Pony.ai, which has raised roughly $300 million from investors, develops artificial intelligence solutions for autonomous vehicles. The partnership comes on the heels of Pony.ai’s announcement of its autonomous fleet PonyPilot, unveiled in April and launched within a geofenced area in Guangzhou, China.

PonyPilot is the company’s first attempt at autonomous vehicle ride-hailing available to the public in China. Check out the video below to see how it works.

Toyota Motor and its captive finance arm Toyota Financial Services have upped investments in the self-driving and mobility space as competition mounts. Last August, the OEM invested $500 million in Uber Technologies, which combined Uber’s autonomous driving system with Toyota’s Guardian technology. 

Toyota Financial stepped into the autonomous space with the launch of a keyless carsharing technology pilot program with Getaround in January 2017 to see if it could enable car lessees to use the payments generated from Getaround to help pay their monthly bill. 

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