Although they are all in the same autonomous driving industry, the three companies have taken completely different routes to commercialization, and the choice of such commercialization paths has indirectly determined their technology routes.
About the founder’s background
There are two co-founders of PonyAi: CEO Peng Jun and CTO Lou Tiancheng. Both of them have worked in Baidu’s autonomous driving department.
The founder, Cao Xudong, worked for Microsoft Asia Research Institute and Sensetime Technology. Most of Cao’s partners have backgrounds in Microsoft or Sensetime.
Founded by a group of former engineers at Waymo, a self-driving car company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet. Chinese tech giants are betting big on Qcraft as they move more seriously into the robocar space.
Technology iteration route
PonyAi Robotaxi’s technology iteration is very simple, first with a few sporadic vehicles in a city for testing, when the problem is solved to a certain extent, in the case of controlled risk, let more test vehicles to join in, a larger scale of testing, to find and solve problems. Since the test vehicles are equipped with safety officers at this stage, safety can be guaranteed and the R&D staff can simply deal with the problems taken over by the safety officers or reported manually every day. Once it has been in operation long enough and no new problems occur, it will be ready for public operation.
They have partnered with numerous OEMs to provide autonomous driving services to them, the competitiveness of their models has improved, and Momenta is able to rely on production vehicles across the country to get the data they need. By 2024, when the mass production data returns, it will be a critical point for Momenta’s self-driving technology to mature.
Waymo’s experience in the Robotaxi field for so many years has made Qcraft clearly understand the technical difficulty of large-scale commercialization of Robotaxi, so they chose Robobus, which is easier to implement and has clearer commercialization prospects.
At a time when Robotaxi cannot be implemented on a large scale in the short term, it has obtained matching customers and user groups on a fixed route, allowing automatic driving can be implemented faster，which is a bit of a downgrade.
At present, the taxi experience of China’s domestic online platforms is good enough, and in the short term, Robotaxi’s experience and cost performance are difficult to surpass those taxi platforms, so Robotaxi does not seem to be a good track at the moment.
Our other take:
These three smart driving companies have differences, but at the same time have many commonalities. The common part is understanding the trend and basic logic of smart driving system development. The differences are more about the difference in business models under the product concept.