Building Safer, Smarter, and Less Congested Cities with AV Technology: Q&A with Pony.ai CEO James Peng
Last week, the City of Fremont and autonomous technology company Pony.ai launched a pilot program offering rides to and from the Fremont Amtrak/ACE Station and City Hall as well as the City of Fremont Development Services Center for a group of City employees via Pony.ai’s shared, on-demand, autonomous last-mile service.
This public-private partnership is one of many that allows Fremont to act as a testbed for an advanced technology solutions to make our City smarter and more sustainable, including the Fremont Fire Department microgrid program with Gridscape Solutions and the Fremont Police Department’s Electric Patrol Vehicle Pilot Program.
Our partnership with Pony.ai allows Fremont to explore a transportation solution that can contribute to alleviating congestion, reducing carbon emissions, decreasing the number of traffic accidents, and optimizing vehicle and land usage. We are especially excited about the potential of the program to aid in one of the City’s ultimate transportation goals of decreasing drive-alone commuting from 73% to 50% by 2040 as outlined in the Mobility Action Plan.
We spoke with Pony.ai CEO James Peng about the launch of the new pilot program in Fremont, how Pony.ai’s technology can address today’s mobility challenges, and more.
Q: How did Pony.ai get its start, and what distinguishes it from other Autonomous Vehicle (AV) companies?
Pony.ai was founded with a mission to build the safest and most reliable technology for autonomous vehicles at a global scale. Pony.ai has been testing its autonomous driving technology on public roads since 2017. We currently have autonomous vehicle service pilots up and running in multiple geographies across the globe. These pilots have enabled us to build a strong technological and operational foundation for launching a pilot service in California.
Q: You are co-located in China and Silicon Valley, right here in Fremont. Why is that important?
Our diverse footprint allows us to not only handle the most complex road conditions in the world, but also gives us an enormous edge in attracting talent.
Q: What do you believe are the biggest market opportunities for AVs?
We believe our industry is still primarily in a development phase; however, the market opportunities are massive. We believe there is a way to revolutionize how we move people and goods around all over the world.
Q: You’ve already demonstrated strong success in developing partnerships to pilot your technology. How are these collaborations contributing to your goals as a company?
Collaborations have been and will be essential to our growth. From partnerships with automotive OEMs such as Toyota and Hyundai to partnerships with local entities such as the City of Fremont and City of Irvine, we believe that we must involve all the stakeholders in order to build a truly beneficial transportation solution. It is this approach that will ensure a lasting foundation for the smart city and the future of mobility.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
It has been a privilege and honor working closely with the City of Fremont and other Bay Area public authorities, and we hope to continue to join forces to address the next-generation mobility challenge together.
To learn more about the Pony.ai and City of Fremont pilot program, you can read about it in publications such as Mashable, Government Technology, Smart Cities World, and Government Fleet.
Enjoy a few pictures from the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony held on Tuesday, Feb 25, 2019 below-