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The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended another one of Pony.ai’s autonomous vehicle testing permits on Tuesday, according to reporting from TechCrunch. The company now does not hold any active testing permits in California.
Pony.ai’s permit to test its autonomous vehicle technology with a driver was revoked due to the DMV’s concerns about Pony.ai’s safety drivers.
Pony.ai is required to monitor the driving records of its safety drivers closely, and failing to do so was what the DMV took issue with. Specifically, the department, which requires safety drivers to have a clean driving record, had concerns about three of the company’s 71 safety drivers for its 41 test vehicles.
Following an October accident in Fremont, California, the DMV suspended Pony.ai’s driverless testing permit in November 2021. During the accident, a Pony.ai vehicle changed lanes while in autonomous mode. While performing the lane change, the car hit a center divider and a traffic sign that was posted on the divider.
The accident certainly wasn’t the first involving autonomous vehicles, however it was unique because the vehicle was acting autonomously and the accident didn’t involve any other vehicles.
In March 2022, Pony.ai agreed to recall three of its autonomous vehicles because of the October crash. While the vehicles had been repaired after discovering the software issue that caused the crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told the company that it believed the software had a safety defect, which led to the recall.
While Pony.ai continues to hit roadblocks in rolling out its autonomous vehicle technology in the United States, the company recently acquired a license to operate an autonomous vehicle taxi service in China, where the company is headquartered.
Pony.ai hopes to launch a fee-charging robotaxi service in Guangzhou sometime this year. Continuing its partnership with Ontime, a ride hailing app developed by GAP Group, Pony.ai will integrate its autonomous driving technology into GAC vehicles, which can be hailed with Ontime’s platform or Pony.ai’s PonyPilot+ app.