SAIC and Pony.ai to co-develop Level 4 autonomous axis robot with foldable steering wheel

SAIC and Pony.ai to co-develop Level 4 autonomous axis robot with foldable steering wheel

SAIC AI Lab, a division of SAIC Motor in China, announced a collaboration with advanced driverless AI developer Pony.ai to design and implement a new fleet of driverless Level 4 autonomous axis robots. The companies launched their new project by unveiling a fully autonomous electric vehicle concept from which the fleet will be built.

SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd. is a Shanghai-based Chinese state-owned automobile company and one of the country’s largest automakers. Electrek has previously covered SAIC-owned brands like MG Motor, but the Chinese conglomerate also produces vehicles through joint ventures with companies like Volkswagen and GM.

In the summer of 2021, SAIC promised to have 40-60 Level 4 autonomous robotaxis operating on the streets of China before the end of the year, stating that it was embracing AI and that SAIC might as well represent Shanghai AI Corporation instead of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.

Since then, SAIC Motor has established its own autonomous-focused division called SAIC AI Lab, which will spearhead the collaboration with autonomous driving specialist Pony.ai. A specialist who already has level 4 autonomous robotaxis operating paid rides on the streets of China.

Together, the two teams seek to combine the know-how of vehicle manufacturing with the expertise of AI, to offer a fleet of electric robots designed from A to Z.

  • autonomous robotaxi
  • autonomous robotaxi

SAIC and Pony.ai will mass-produce autonomous robotaxis

The two tech companies shared details of their new self-driving robotaxi venture in a press release, outlining some of the EV concept’s tech specs, as well as mass production goals.

Unlike other Level 4 autonomous robotaxis powered by Pony.ai’s technology, this upcoming fleet will be purpose-built from the ground up rather than being implemented on an existing electric vehicle. However, the current concept shown today is based on a SAIC Marvel R model.

The companies say they will partner to develop the electric vehicle’s chassis, smart cockpit, human-machine interface, remote assistance and other smart driving technologies. The two say the goal of reaching mass production on these purpose-built autonomous electric vehicles is to accelerate widespread commercial adoption of robotaxis services and autonomous driving as a whole across China. SAIC AI Lab General Manager Dang Xiang explained:

Pony.ai is a world leader in autonomous driving. SAIC AI Lab has mature technical strengths in driverless operation, vehicle development and smart cockpit. His robotaxi project was affirmed by the market. It is believed that the cooperation between the two companies will accelerate commercialization progress, improve mobility services and advance the implementation of smart urban transport.

The current concept vehicle that debuted is equipped with 17 automotive-grade integrated sensors to create a 360-degree visual range covering 200 meters, eliminating blind spots around the entire vehicle. All powered by the latest generation of autonomous technology from Pony.ai. The vehicle also features a foldable steering wheel that “provides a human-computer interaction experience that significantly improves automotive range.”

SAIC AI Lab and Pony.ai say they will continue to advance their technology and develop a connected network of autonomous technologies to support the robotaxis fleet. There is no timeline on when Chinese citizens can expect to hail a ride in this new fleet, for now the teams are simply stating that they will be implemented over time.

Parent company SAIC Motor has already shared plans to begin mass production of robotaxis in China by 2025. Perhaps with Pony.ai on board, the automaker can reach its goal faster.

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