Toyota backed Pony.ai says its next-generation robotaxis will feature discrete lidars made by US developer Luminar Technologies.
Lidars are the roof mounted laser-based sensors and a key component to many autonomous vehicle technologies in that they help vehicles perceive their environment and what is changing around them.
James Peng, Pony.ai CEO said it chose Luminar’s Iris lidar not just for its performance but also because it is more discrete and can be integrated into the car’s design better than traditional lidars.
“It’s starting to blur the line between what you see as a very well-designed passenger vehicle and the monstrosities that have been on top of some of the AV test vehicles,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar.
Luminar’s Iris lidar is about 10cm high and four roof-top mounted units are required to give a 360 degree views.
Pony.ai has Robotaxi services operating in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and Irvine and Fremont in California with a fleet of about 200 vehicles. Last year, the startup raised $267 million at a valuation of $5.3 billion.
Luminar earlier this year announced a partnership with SAIC Motor Corp, China’s largest automaker and a deal with the self-driving software subsidiary of Volvo Cars, owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings.