Pony.ai, a Chinese autonomous driving company backed by Toyota, can no longer test fully self driving vehicles in California, for now at least. According to Reuters, the DMV suspended its driverless testing permit on November 19th, a few weeks after a reported collision in Fremont. Based on the report filed with the state's DMV, a Pony.ai vehicle operating autonomously hit a road center divider and a traffic sign on October 28th.
It was a single vehicle incident, and there were no injuries and other vehicles involved. As Reuters said, it's unclear what aspect of the accident prompted the DMV to suspend Pony.ai's permit, but the company said it immediately launched an investigation and is working with the agency to figure out what caused the collision.
While Pony.ai won't be able to test fully autonomous vehicles in California anymore, it can continue its trials with safety drivers behind the wheel. The company has 10 Hyundai Motor Kona electric vehicles registered for testing and only secured its driverless testing permit six months ago for three cities in the state. It's the eighth company to receive that kind of permit in California, following the likes of Waymo, Cruise and Baidu. Under the terms of the permit, Pony.ai was given permission to conduct driverless tests in Fremont, Milpitas and Irvine on open roads and with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Further, the vehicles could only operate in clear weather and light precipitation.
Pony.ai recently received approval to run paid autonomous taxi services in Beijing, which it was also hoping to achieve in California by 2022. It remains to be seen whether this suspension will delay those plans considerably.