Pony.ai, SANY Create Joint Venture to Develop Next-Gen Autonomous Trucks

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July 27, 2022

Pony.ai, which develops autonomous driving technology, has announced a strategic joint venture with SANY Heavy Truck, a China-based heavy equipment manufacturer. The companies will collaborate to create a new autonomous truck brand.

The partnership will integrate Pony’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 that are automotive-grade and have Level 4 (L4) class redundancies.

The companies said the joint venture will start small-scale deliveries of the robotic trucks in 2022 and 2023, with mass production of the L4 truck expected in 2024, with a goal of reaching an annual production of about 10,000 trucks.

The first prototype was built on SANY’s EV truck platform, and has already conducted road testing. The new venture’s portfolio will include a mix of new energy vehicles and fuel-based, with the aim to increase the proportion of new energy vehicles in the future.

“SANY has industry-leading heavy truck manufacturing and is pioneering the architecture of ‘new energy’ heavy trucks, intelligent network connections, and other key areas,” said James Peng, co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “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.”

“This partnership between SANY and Pony.ai is the ultimate collaboration between truck ‘body’ and truck ‘brain’ and thus makes it possible to mass produce high-level autonomous trucks,” said Liang Linhe, chairman of SANY Heavy Truck. “This partnership, which features complementary strengths and competitive advantages, will advance autonomous trucking and logistics well into the future and will lead to a safer, more efficient, intelligent logistics system.”

In June, Pony.ai released its autonomous driving controller (ADC) designed for automotive-grade mass production. The ADC is built on the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin system-on-chip and will fully enable the trucks produced by the joint venture.

“The establishment of this new venture between Pony.ai and SANY is a significant milestone for the trucking industry,” said Rishi Dhall, vice president of automotive at NVIDIA. “Powered by NVIDIA DRIVE, this next-generation of new-energy autonomous trucks will enable the delivery of goods to address ever-growing e-commerce demands without compromising safety and reliability — while reducing the transportation industry’s dependence on fossil fuels.”

The new Pony/SANY partnership announcement follows on the heels of the recently formed Cyantron joint venture between Pony.ai and Sinotrans, which began operations in April and aims to enhance the digitalization and intelligence of the transportation process.

Pony.ai said creating partnerships with the top companies in both trucking and logistics is key to its robotruck “golden triangle” strategy. Pony.ai has core autonomous driving technology, which is the key to enabling logistics and future heavy truck manufacturing; logistics companies have accumulated extensive transport experience and a strong customer base, while heavy truck manufacturers have the technical expertise in vehicle development and manufacturing. Cementing relationships between leading global partners creates a powerful standard and framework for future development in the industry, the company said. 

Based on vehicle planning and control, as well as route planning, autonomous trucks are expected to save between 10% to 20% of energy compared with conventional trucks, Pony.ai said. In addition, with the gradual expansion of the joint venture’s new energy products, by 2030, their trucks will reduce CO2 emission by more than 1 million tons, equivalent to the CO2 absorbed by thousands of acres of forest.

For more details about Pony.ai and its technologies, visit its website here.

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