China's autopilot launcher Pony.ai announced its intention to launch a large-scale production of unmanned trucks in China, a project partner, will be Sony Heavy Industry. In a few years, the duet plans to produce 10,000 cars a year: this year and next year, small-series deliveries will be made, and the full-scale mass production will begin in 2024.
Pony.ai specified that the vehicles would be equipped with a level-4 autopilot system, which involves driving without the driver ' s participation in the city and on the roads, but with certain restrictions. The company now has permission to use these vehicles only in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Pony.ai's autopilot system is based on the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin hardware platform, which is used by several Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers with driver support technologies. It is specified that not all of the unmanned trucks will be electric vehicles. Pony.ai has yet to disclose the estimated value of the trucks and has not indicated whether they will appear outside China.
Experts in the industry are of the view that the release of unmanned trucks on public roads is easier than robots: trucks travel more along motorways, along simpler and more stable routes, while taxi trips are usually shorter and their routes are more complex. Pony.ai also say that autopilot technologies will save 10% to 20% of the energy available to trucks.