Chinese self-driving startup Pony.ai on Wednesday announced it raised $462 million in its latest round of funding, with $400 million coming from Toyota alone.
The latest funding values the company at approximately $3 billion, making it the most valuable self-driving startup to come out of China.
Pony.ai was founded in 2016 by former executives at Chinese tech company Baidu and is currently testing its self-driving prototypes in Beijing and Guangzhou in China and in Irvine and San Francisco in California. Some of the prototypes are already being used in trial services that operate within geofenced areas and with a safety driver behind the wheel at all times.
Toyota is developing its own self-driving system, which it will demonstrate later this year during the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but to spread its bets the automaker is also investing in self-driving technology companies. Last April, Toyota and Japanese parts supplier Denso invested $667 million in Uber ATG, the self-driving arm of ride-sharing giant Uber.
Toyota has been slow and cautious in the field of self-driving technology but it's clear the automaker is catching up fast. It's also formed a mobility company called Monet with a number of other Japanese automakers and has been testing self-driving systems for cars at shared sites such as California's GoMentum Station and Michigan's Mcity locations, as well as its own site at Michigan Technical Resource Park at Ottawa Lake, Michigan. Its first car with self-driving capability will be a Lexus model due out later this year.