Pony.ai to Issue Autonomous Driving Recall in U.S.

The United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Tuesday that robotaxi startup Pony.ai has agreed to recall some versions of its autonomous driving software due to an accident last year. Reuters quoted the agency as declaring the recall “the first of an automated driving system.”

In October 2021, a completely unmanned test vehicle of Pony.ai had a minor accident in the state California. While the car was attempting to change lanes, it drove onto the isolation belt in the middle of the road and collided with a street sign. The front of the test vehicle was damaged, but the incident caused no casualties.

Pony.ai said that after this accident, it immediately reported to relevant departments, including the Autopilot Management Department of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the NHTSA.

The accident was caused by a software problem, and three test vehicles were affected. On the second day following the accident, Pony.ai claimed to have solved the problem.

At present, the company has responded to all inquiries from the NHTSA, and there have been no new inquiries from the U.S. regulator after mid-December 2021. The department asked Pony.ai to submit a recall report at the end of February this year, which it completed earlier this month.

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This is the first known recall of an L4 high-grade autonomous driving system to be initiated by regulatory authorities anywhere in the world. The case represents the further improvement of American automated driving laws, and also the tightening of the automated driving environment.

With many Chinese and American firms entering the industry such as Google’s Waymo, General Motors’ Cruise, Baidu Apollo and Pony.ai, more and more autonomous test vehicles are driving on open roads in many cities. Several leading companies operate thousands of vehicles in total, and their cumulative mileage of road test has reached tens of millions of kilometers.