Detroit’s Luminar Collaborates with Pony.ai on Autonomous Driving Platform

Luminar Technologies, which is based in Florida and has a Detroit office, has collaborated with California’s Pony.ai, an autonomous driving technology company, on a new sensing platform. Luminar offers lidar hardware and software.
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Pony.ai vehicle
Luminar Technologies is working with Pony.ai in California on a sensing platform for autonomous driving. // Photo courtesy of Pony.ai

Luminar Technologies, which is based in Florida and has a Detroit office, has collaborated with California’s Pony.ai, an autonomous driving technology company, on a new sensing platform. Luminar offers lidar hardware and software.

Pony.ai is set to deploy the automotive-grade production autonomous fleets in 2023 globally. The next-generation fleet with integrate with Luminar’s Iris and feature a multi-sensor 360-degree configuration and a slim-profile roofline at 10 centimeters off the vehicle roof.

The goal of the partnership is to increase safe, autonomous driving in complex urban environments with an integrated sensor design.

“Partnering with Luminar is a critical enabling milestone for Pony.ai as we build our next-generation system and prepare for large-scale series production,” says James Peng, CEO and founder of Pony.ai. “Luminar is in a league of their own when it comes to lidar and shares our belief that delivering autonomous mobility globally will enable a safe and sustainable future. We’re excited to realize that vision together with them.”

The partnership follows Pony.ai’s expansion of its Robotaxi service across five cities in China and the U.S., including two in California. The company began testing China’s first Robotaxi service, PonyPilot, in late 2018 in Guangzhou and, in 2019, became the first company to roll out a public-facing Robotaxi service in California. It has a fleet of more than 200 autonomous vehicles and has provided more than 220,000 Robotaxi rides.

“Pony.ai’s vision to create a dynamic, vehicle-agnostic autonomous driving system is very impressive, and it has already demonstrated a clear leadership position for Robotaxi development in China and beyond,” says Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. “We’re leveraging the full extent of the technology and product development work we’ve accomplished over the years, and directly re-applying it to Pony.ai’s platform and fleet. This partnership marks a significant milestone towards the realization of safe autonomous Robotaxi services in the years to come.”

Luminar has more than 50 industry partners including global automakers. Last year, it signed a production deal for autonomous consumer vehicles with Volvo Cars and struck a deal with Daimler Truck AG and Intel’s Mobileye. It was founded in 2012 and has 400 employees across offices in California, Florida, Colorado, and Germany, along with Detroit.

Pony.ai was founded in 2016 and is valued at $5.3 billion. Some of its major investors include Toyota, Sequoia Capital China, and IDG Capital, and it has formed partnerships with Toyota, Hyundai, GAC Group, and FAW Group.

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