|Self-driving trucks are believed to reduce fuel costs by about 15% / Photo Credit: Scharfsinn (via Shutterstock)|
The hype over self-driving vehicles is wearing thin, but it appears that technology will be incorporated faster to trucks than to passenger cars, reported Evelyn Cheng of CNBC, a business and real-time financial market coverage news website. Pony.ai, a Chinese autonomous driving company, has centered its work on applying the technology to passenger vehicles. The company, which has an office in California, brought in a funding amount of $50 million in April, said business information website Crunchbase.
Meanwhile, two companies that focus on self-driving cars, namely TuSimple and Plus.ai, raised $120 million in June and $200 million in August, respectively, as found by Crunchbase. At the CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China, Pony.ai’s CEO and co-founder James Peng said, “Overall, the funding situation for us (has) definitely cooled (down) a little bit, but definitely not dried up.” He said that the company is currently focusing on strategic partnerships.
In April, Pony.ai announced that it had been testing autonomous driving for 16 weeks with a 10-person team. According to Peng, the firm is testing about 30 self-driving passenger vehicles in Nansha. The vehicles managed to navigate rush hour traffic. “Isn’t, at the end of the day, the nirvana is not autonomous driving vehicles for us. It’s long-haul trucks and things of that nature," Nasdaq Asia-Pacific Chairman Robert McCooey piped in.
Businesses are inclined to choose self-driving trucks due to the reduced cost of hiring drivers that are mandated by law to take regular breaks. Businesses also believe that self-driving trucks will cut down fuel expenditure by about 15%, Pony.ai said.
In a statement to CNBC, Plus.ai COO and co-founder Shawn Kerrigan asserted, “There’s no question that autonomous trucks will be ready before autonomous cars.” Interestingly, some autonomous driving technologies operate as driver assistance, while others are capable of navigating a road without the presence of a human. However, the ability of companies to use both autonomous trucks and cars still has to rely on government regulation.