A fleet of electric, autonomous Hyundai Kona crossovers — equipped with a self-driving system from Chinese autonomous startup Pony .ai and Via’s ride-hailing platform, will start shuttling customers on public roads next week.
The robotaxi service called BotRide will operate on public roads in Irvine, California, beginning November 4. This isn’t a driverless service; there will be a human safety driver behind the wheel at all times. But it is one of the few ride-hailing pilots on California roads. Only four companies, AutoX, Pony.ai, Waymoand Zoox have permission to operate a ride-hailing service using autonomous vehicles in the state of the California.
Hyundai said it is using BotRide to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment, according to Christopher Chang, head of business development, strategy and technology division, Hyundai Motor Company .
Pony.ai has already raised $300 million on a $1.7 billion valuation and locked in partnerships with Toyota and Hyundai.