Pony.ai was testing its vehicles in California with a license from the state’s Department of Motor vehicles. However, the state department revoked its license now for violating numerous safety rules. It was said that the safety drivers assigned to the vehicles were not very safe drivers. DMV stated that POny.ai’s testing license was being reviewed. It was found that numerous violations were found on the driving records of the autonomous cars startup company’s safety drivers.
Currently, the company has 41 registered autonomous vehicles and 71 safety drivers, as per the permits in California. A DMV spokesperson said, “Because of the critical role of safety drivers to facilitate the safe testing of autonomous technology and the need for these drivers to have a clean driving record as established by the DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations, the DMV is revoking the permit, effective immediately,”
Interestingly, this is not the first time company’s license was revoked. California DMV, a state agency that manages one of the largest AV testing programs has been monitoring the vehicles for a long time. Last year, Pony.ai’s license to drive without safety drivers was suspended after a vehicle collision. It was in Fermont, California.
A spokesperson for Pony.ai said the DMV revoked the permit because it had concerns over three of its safety drivers’ records. “Pony.ai approaches the development of autonomous vehicle technology with safety as our foundation, and we are proud of our safety record,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Pony.ai has driven over 6.8 million real-world autonomous miles, in which no injuries have occurred.”
This represents a serious hurdle to Pony’s commercial plans in the state. Shortly after receiving its driverless testing permit last year, Pony.ai founder and CEO James Peng told that the company was also seeking approval to include those vehicles in its robotaxi service in California. “We are actually at the final stage of getting the approval for travelers,” he said. Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion after a $400 million investment from Toyota. The company tests autonomous vehicles in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, as well as in Fremont and Irvine in California. Pony recently received a permit to operate its autonomous taxi service in China, making it the first company to win the country’s approval.
Pony.ai has been testing robot taxis in Beijing and Guangzhou since late 2018 as well as in Fremont and Irvine, California. The startup claims to be the first company to launch an autonomous ride-hailing operation and offer self-driving car rides to the general public in China.