New autonomous driving startup Pony.ai has just secured a staggering $112 million in funding in an investment round led by Morningside Venture Capital and Legend Capital. Others that also participated in the round include IDG Capital and Sequoia China.
Pony.ai was founded in 2016 by Tiancheng Lou and James Peng and is a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) based technology that’s used for autonomous driving. Already the company has offices in both Silicon Valley and China and is making rapid progress in the advancement of this AI technology.
Prior to this venture, co-founder James Peng was Chief Architect at Baidu. Tiancheng Lou, on the other hand, is a well-known programmer in the coding community and is often referred to as his handle ACRush. He previously worked on autonomous driving projects at both Baidu and Google X before co-founding Pony.ai.
Currently, the company is building level 4 autonomous driving technology. This is essentially a technology that enables vehicles to perform any driving function autonomously. “We are excited and honored to welcome our new group of investors to the team and are grateful for their support,” said co-founder James Peng. “Autonomous driving has the potential to bring about massive benefits to society, and we hope to work closely with our understanding of investors to realize this future.”
Wenji Jin is the managing director at Legend Capital and he believes that the future is going to soon look very different from what we’re used to, and it’s AI self-driving technology that will see to that. “This market’s enormous potential makes its development opportunities and directions similarly vast. Pony.ai is one of the very few companies we’ve seen that possesses the critical success factors: a team with a proven track record and extremely well-rounded technical expertise from both research and industry backgrounds,” said Jin. “From product definition and systems integration to artificial intelligence, Pony.ai is the leader in this nascent industry.”
The company says it will use the funds to continue its efforts towards creating the most reliable and safe AI self-driving technology. Within the next few months, Pony.ai is intending to have an autonomous driving fleet up and running in Guangzhou, China. On top of that, the company will carry on building key relationships in both China and the US to help build its presence in both countries.