California has let two Chinese startups offer robotaxis to the public

China’s driverless cars are coming for passengers in the United States. AutoX and Pony.ai just became the first Chinese companies allowed to offer self-driving robotaxis in the state of California, according to notices posted on the website of the California Public Utilities Commission this week.

Started in 2016 by Princeton University professor Jianxiong Xiao, called “Professor X” by his students, AutoX is now one of China’s most well-funded autonomous driving startups alongside Pony.ai, which was co-founded in 2016 by two former executives at Baidu’s self-driving department.

AutoX said in January that it was in talks with investors to raise a lofty $100 million. Pony.ai had banked at least $214 million in funding as of April.

While more than 62…

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