Self-driving startup Pony.ai announced on Thursday it will establish a joint venture with Sany Heavy Truck, a subsidiary of Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer Sany Heavy Industry, to develop Level 4 autonomous trucks for logistics transportation.
The joint venture plans to start small-scale deliveries of the self-driving trucks this year. Mass production of the L4 trucks will commence in 2024 and the annual production of the trucks is expected to surpass 10,000 units within a few years, said Pony.ai. L4 autonomy means the vehicle can drive by itself under most circumstances without a human backup driver.
The first prototype of the autonomous truck was built on Sany's new energy truck platform and has already conducted road testing. The JV's autonomous truck product portfolio will include a mix of new energy and fuel-based trucks, with the aim to increase the proportion of new energy trucks in the future, the company said.
"Sany has industry-leading heavy truck manufacturing technology and is pioneering the architecture of 'new energy' heavy trucks, intelligent network connections and other key areas," said James Peng, Pony.ai's co-founder and CEO.
Integrating Pony.ai's core autonomous driving technologies with the capabilities of Sany enables the joint venture to create an intelligent truck and logistics ecosystem for L4 autonomous trucking, Peng said.
This partnership will advance autonomous trucking and logistics well into the future and will lead to a safer, more efficient and intelligent logistics system," said Liang Linhe, chairman of Sany Heavy Truck.
According to Pony.ai, the autonomous trucks can save 10 to 20 percent of energy compared with conventional trucks. In addition, with the gradual expansion of the JV's new energy products, by 2030, the joint venture's trucks will reduce carbon emissions by more than one million metric tons.