Pony.ai, a company that builds autonomous driving solutions, has closed a funding round of $112M. The Series A round was co-led by Morningside Venture Capital and Legend Capital. Seed round lead-investor Sequoia China and investor IDG Capital also participated in the round, along with Hongtai Capital, Legend Star, Puhua Capital, Polaris Capital, DCM Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Silicon Valley Future Capital and other funding sources. Miracle Capital was the exclusive financial advisor in this round.
With offices in both Silicon Valley and China, Pony.ai was founded by a group of seasoned engineers with deep learning and autonomous driving experience. James Peng, co-founder and CEO, was previously Chief Architect at Baidu, where he oversaw the technical direction of the autonomous driving division and other key areas such as big data and monetization platforms.
Dr. Peng started his career at Google after earning a PhD from Stanford University, and he also holds a BS degree from Tsinghua University. Tiancheng Lou, co-founder and CTO, worked on autonomous driving at both Google X (before it became Waymo) and Baidu. Often more commonly known by his handle “ACRush”, Dr. Lou is a well-known programmer within the coding community – he has been a medalist in the Topcoder competition for the past 10 consecutive years as well as a 2-time champion of Google’s Code Jam. Dr. Lou holds a BS and PhD in Computer Science from Tsinghua University.
Pony.ai is building level 4 autonomous driving technology, meaning vehicles can perform all driving functions for an entire trip in both suburban and urban environments as well as inclement weather conditions. Though just over a year old, Pony.ai has made rapid progress in deploying its technology; the company’s self-driving cars can be spotted daily on Bay Area roads, testing various complex road conditions.
The company has also made considerable progress in Guangzhou, China. Pony.ai established its second headquarter office in the city last October, and began testing its fleet of autonomous driving vehicles on public roads this past December.
The company plans to use this round of funding to continue working towards its mission of building the safest and most reliable self-driving technology. In Q1 of this year, Pony.ai will begin operating an autonomous driving fleet in the Southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. In addition to fleet deployment, the company will continue to build key partnerships in both the US and China, and to rapidly grow its team in both geographies.