Guangzhou, China-based startup Pony.ai today announced it’ll launch an autonomous ride-sharing program in Irvine, California on November 4, running through January. The service — dubbed BotRide — follows on the heels of an April test of the company’s “product-ready” driverless cars in Nansha, China, and it marks one of the first robo-taxi services to be made available in California.
Like PonyPilot, BotRide will allow individual riders and carpoolers to hail autonomous cars for free through Android and iOS apps developed in collaboration with Via. (Via handles booking and passenger assignment.) The vehicles in question are Hyundai KONA Electric SUVs outfitted with sensor hardware and Pony.ai’s proprietary autonomous navigation software, which the startup says can identify and predict the behavior of nearby vehicles and pedestrians while navigating challenging traffic conditions in urban areas.