Pony.ai gets $100 million Saudi Arabia investment to develop NEOM’s autonomous infrastructure

Estimated read time 3 min read

A | a-+=

In a significant move for the autonomous driving industry, Chinese startup Pony.ai has inked a deal with Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city and development project, NEOM, to receive a substantial $100 million investment. This partnership marks an important step towards the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology in the Middle East and North Africa region.

As part of the agreement, Pony.ai and NEOM are set to establish a joint venture focused on the development, manufacturing, and deployment of autonomous vehicles and intelligent infrastructure. This initiative aligns with NEOM’s ambitious goal of achieving autonomous transportation solutions as part of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman-led Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from its heavy reliance on oil.

Majid Mufti, CEO of the Neom Investment Fund, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, “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 utilize it in NEOM in the near future.”

The partnership will also see the establishment of a regional research and development (R&D) and manufacturing headquarters, underscoring the long-term commitment of both Pony.ai and NEOM to foster innovation and production in the autonomous vehicle sector.

Pony.ai, a pioneer in autonomous driving technology, has already made significant strides in the industry. The company is currently operating fully driverless vehicles in Chinese cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou. Furthermore, it holds licenses to operate driverless cars in these cities, along with Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Terry Wong, executive director of Land Mobility at NEOM, described the investment in Pony.ai as a pivotal element in their plans to develop a smart, zero-emission, autonomous multi-modal transport system. He highlighted the potential benefits of this collaboration, noting that it will bring about a future characterized by safer, more convenient, and sustainable transportation options.

The joint venture is not only a financial commitment but also an industrial and technological leap for both parties. It will include the establishment of a cutting-edge autonomous vehicle manufacturing and R&D facility within NEOM. The strategic location of NEOM provides an ideal setting for Pony.ai to advance its autonomous vehicle technology in the region.

James Peng, co-founder and CEO at Pony.ai, emphasized the significance of this expansion, saying, “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.”

NEOM’s development plan, with its emphasis on renewable energy and sustainability, offers a unique platform for testing and implementing autonomous mobility solutions. It represents a global living lab where these innovations can be explored and refined.

Pony.ai’s prowess in autonomous driving, combined with NEOM’s forward-looking vision, creates a promising synergy that could revolutionize transportation in the Middle East and North Africa region. This collaboration may very well set a precedent for further cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Chinese companies in the realm of technological and scientific innovation, further diversifying and transforming the region’s economy.

(Source: Rebecca Bellan | TechCrunch | China Daily | NEOM)

You May Also Like