Autonomous driving technology company Pony.ai has secured a $100m (SR375.15m) investment from NEOM Investment Fund (NIF), the investment arm of the city of NEOM in Saudi Arabia.
Under the alliance, NEOM and Pony.ai will set up a joint venture (JV) to develop, manufacture and offer autonomous cars, services for autonomous driving, and infrastructure for smart vehicles.
Through the JV, a regional autonomous vehicle manufacturing and research and development (R&D) facility will be established.
Pony.ai is claimed to be the first company to operate fully autonomous vehicles in both Beijing and Guangzhou.
It was also among the first companies in China to be granted permission to run fully autonomous vehicles in each of the country’s four tier-one cities, namely Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.
In a statement, NEOM said as it is being constructed entirely from scratch, it provides the environment for developing and deploying advanced autonomous mobility solutions on land, sea, and in the air.
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The alliance also expands on NEOM’s prior investments in electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and electric sea glider technologies.
Pony.ai co-founder and CEO James Peng said: “We are delighted to partner with NEOM, to combine Pony.ai’s world-class autonomous driving technology and operations experience with NEOM’s vision to be the ‘the land of the future, where the greatest minds and best talents are empowered to embody pioneering ideas’ to develop, manufacture and deliver autonomous mobility services and vehicles to the region.
“As a leading global autonomous driving technology company, this major regional expansion for Pony.ai is a milestone for our global aspirations and our vision of ‘autonomous mobility everywhere’ and will advance the development of the global AV industry into a new stage.”
NIF CEO Majid Mufti said: “This investment aligns with the ambitious plans announced by NEOM to achieve autonomous transportation solutions for the region.
“Pony.ai’s autonomous driving technology is already available today and we are excited to be able to utilise it in NEOM in the near future.”