Autonomous driving technology company Pony.ai announced a strategic joint venture on July 28 with SANY Heavy Truck, a subsidiary of Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer SANY Heavy Industry.
The two companies will deeply integrate Pony.ai’s “virtual driver” with SANY’s technical accumulation in the field of wire-controlled chassis and vehicle development to jointly develop high-end heavy trucks of automotive grade and with L4-class redundancies.
The joint venture plans to start small-scale deliveries of robotrucks in 2022 and 2023. Mass production of the L4 truck will commence in 2024 and within a few years will reach an annual production of around 10,000 trucks. The first prototype of the autonomous truck was built on SANY’s new EV truck platform and has already conducted road testing. Pony.ai has released its autonomous driving controller (ADC) built on the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin system-on-chip in June, to be fully enabled in the trucks produced by the joint venture.
“SANY has industry-leading heavy truck manufacturing technology and is pioneering the architecture of ‘new energy’ heavy trucks, intelligent network connections, and other key areas,” said James Peng, Pony.ai’s co-founder and CEO. “Integrating Pony.ai’s core autonomous driving technologies with the capabilities of SANY enables our joint venture to create a successful intelligent truck and logistics ecosystem for L4 autonomous trucking.”
In the process of building intelligent logistics, Pony.ai has made a lot of progress recently. It has previously established a joint venture named Qingzhui Logistics with Sinotrans, a subsidiary of China Merchants Group. The JV started business operation on April 1 this year to realize the intelligence of transportation process.
According to Pony.ai’s robotruck operations experience, based on vehicle planning and control as well as route planning, autonomous trucks can save 10%-20% of energy compared with conventional trucks. In addition, with the gradual expansion of the JV’s new energy products, by 2030, the joint venture’s trucks will reduce CO2 emission by more than one million tons, equivalent to the CO2 absorbed by thousands of acres of forest.