Chinese company recalls faulty AI • The Register


Chinese driverless car company Pony.ai scored an unwanted first: it recalled some versions of its AI software from US roads after acknowledging flaws.

Hazardous product recalls are common in the automotive industry, but this is believed to be the first-ever action of its kind performed on self-driving software.

Pony.ai was founded in 2016 by Chinese developers who had worked in the United States. It quickly attracted a lot of investment, established an R&D center in Guangzhou, China, and obtained permits to conduct road tests of its self-driving technology in California and China. The company even operated the United States’ first robo-taxi service and offered automated delivery services, using ten Hyundai Konas on California roads.

Toyota has invested $400 million in the company – perhaps the most powerful endorsement an automotive company can receive, giving the Japanese megalith the status of the most prolific automaker on the planet.

But Pony.ai hit a big speed bump when one of its cars pulled road signs in October 2021. The California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the company’s license to operate robo-cars in December of the same year. The trials ceased as a result of this action.

Now the company has filed a case with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in which it has agreed to recall certain versions of its software because they are unsafe.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator Dr. Steven Cliff hailed the decision as a sign that the agency is applying the same rigor to AI that it brings to other new automotive technologies.

The recall means that three of Pony.ai’s ten US-based vehicles will not return to the country’s roads and will likely complicate its efforts to sell a recently announced self-driving module built on Nvidia technology and suggested as a shortcut for others. autonomous efforts of automakers.

The company claims the October 2021 incident is the only time one of its robotic cars has had such an accident.

Pony.ai’s recall may be a first, but Tesla has already rolled back a software update to its autos after creating more problems than it solved. Muskmobiles have also been involved in fatal accidents during autonomous operations when a human was present in the car.

Although self-driving cars continue to run into problems, interest remains huge – as shown by Intel’s recent decision to launch its Mobileye driver assistance technology business unit, and likely pocket a sum that exceeds easily the $15 billion she paid to acquire the company in 2015. ®

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