The service, provided by Pony.ai, is part of Fremont’s drive to decrease single-driver commuting and has the potential to expand beyond city employees in the future.
Fremont, California, has partnered with autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai to introduce a pilot commuter programme offering rides for a group of city employees.
Participating employees will ride in Pony.ai autonomous vehicles from Fremont’s Amtrak/Ace Station to City Hall and Fremont Development Services Centre as part of a shared, on-demand last-mile service.
Each vehicle is equipped with the start-up’s autonomous driving technology along with a safety operator to ensure safe and smooth navigation of complex road scenarios.
According to Pony.ai, its proprietary full-stack autonomous driving technology serves as the ‘brains’ of the future vehicle, and will serve as a smart city building block.
While still in the early stages, Fremont hopes that this programme will yield instructive data and has says it has the potential to expand beyond city employees.
“By partnering with a local autonomous technology firm, Pony.ai, the city of Fremont is acting as a testbed for a transportation solution that has the potential to alleviate congestion, reduce carbon emissions, decrease the number of traffic accidents, and optimise vehicle and land usage,” said Lily Mei, Mayor of Fremont.
“Together, we are laying the groundwork for a safer and smarter city.”
The Fremont Mobility Action Plan, adopted in March 2019, sets out to address both regional and local traffic congestion challenges and outlines the goal of decreasing drive-alone commuting from 73 per cent to 50 per cent by 2040.
The Pony.ai pilot programme is one solution the city is exploring to help meet this goal and serve the internal travel demands of its growing population of 230,000 residents.
“We will facilitate business activity and create economic value for the broader region, as well as contribute to a safe and congestion-free transportation environment.”
The city and Pony.ai’s programme team will monitor performance, user feedback and unknowns for the duration of the pilot to evaluate results and explore options for programme expansion.
“In the long term, Pony.ai aims to offer a service that not only addresses the community’s daily transit needs, but also serves as a key enabler to a broader smart city infrastructure in Fremont and beyond,” added James Peng, CEO at Pony.ai.
“With our autonomous driving technology, we will facilitate business activity and create economic value for the broader region, as well as contribute to a safe and congestion-free transportation environment.”
Pony.ai’s vehicles operate daily across the globe, from Fremont and Irvine, California, to Beijing and Guangzhou in China.
In 2018, Pony.ai launched what it said was the first daily robotaxi operations in China and last year the first public robotaxi service in California.
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