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Pony.ai says it is the first self-driving company with a taxi driver’s license in China


Self-driving car startup Pony.ai will be able to collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of China’s two major cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai Handout

BEIJING – Self-driving startup Pony.ai announced on Sunday that it has received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

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

Chinese start-up, backed by Toyota, received approval from the city of Beijing late last year to charge a fee to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It’s not like a taxi license.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also gets approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company says its Nansha taxi license requires 24 months of self-driving test driving in China and/or other countries, and has not been involved in any traffic accident liability, in number of other factors.

The startup said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other major Chinese cities next year. The company has been testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California.

Robotaxis in China now has a driver to ensure safety.

CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.



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