Pony.ai says it is the first self-driving company to receive a taxi license in China

Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robot taxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities from Sunday.

Pony.ai handout sheet

BEIJING – Self-propelled start-up Pony.ai announced on Sunday that it was receiving a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars like traditional taxis in the Nansha district of southern Guangzhou city, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing late last year to charge fees for running a commercial robot taxi business in a suburban area of ​​the city. It is not the same as a taxi card.

Baidu’s Apollo Go was also approved in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $ 8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving tests in China and / or other countries, and no involvement in any active traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robot taxi companies in two other major Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in these cities and in California.

Robotaxis in China currently has a human driver present for safety.

CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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