Chinese smart electric vehicle startup Xpeng has announced a series of innovations that lead the company towards creating the mobility ecosystem of the future.
“Our exploration of more efficient, safer and carbon neutral mobility solutions goes beyond smart electric vehicles and is the cornerstone of our long-term competitive advantages,” said He Xiaopeng, President and CEO of XPeng, in the startup’s 2021 Tech Day. in Beijing on Sunday. “We strive to implement cutting-edge mobility technologies in mass production models for the benefit of our customers.”
Xiaopeng went into detail about the company’s latest versions of its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), its network of superchargers, a next-generation flying car built with HT Aero And it is robotic unicorn for kids.
Xpilot 3.5 will be designed for city driving
Xpeng plans to roll out the next generation of its ADAS for drivers in select cities during the first half of 2022. Xpilot 3.5 will feature “City Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP)” and will only be available to drivers of the Xpeng P5 family sedan. that can be built with lidar, millimeter wave radar, and a 3D visual perception network that can recognize, classify, and position multiple targets, all of which are essential for city-level NGP.
The latest version of Xpilot, 3.0, which was available to drivers of Xpeng’s P7 sedan, handled NGP at highway level, through which Xpeng was able to collect nearly 12 million kilometers, or 7.5 million miles, of data.
Xpilot 3.5 will have a strategic planning module with advanced prediction capabilities that uses a combination of rules-based and data-driven AI to handle city scenarios such as avoiding static objects and vulnerable road users, as well as changing lanes to any speed, according to Xpeng.
Xpeng’s approach to achieving full autonomy is similar to Tesla’s in that it aims to go through autonomy level 2, or ADAS systems, on its way to level 5. (SAE International describes that Level 2 autonomy has primarily supportive features, such as adaptive cruise control and braking support. It describes Level 5 autonomy, a system that can drive anywhere under all conditions). Last month, Tesla released a software update that allows customers to request access to its Full Self-Driving Beta (FSD Beta) software. FSD includes capabilities such as automatic lane change, entering and exiting parking spaces, and automatic steering, which is currently not available for city streets. Tesla has not given a date on when it will bring this capability to cities, which will be boosted using vision and neural network processing only.
“Human-machine co-pilot functions will remain critical for the foreseeable future,” XinZhou Wu, vice president of autonomous driving at Xpeng, said during the event. “Our The mission is to progressively transition from advanced driver assistance to fully autonomous driving, with a clear roadmap to fully connect all driving scenarios first. Our closed-loop data operation, software iteration and mass production capabilities, all built in-house, put us in the first position to significantly improve security and solve long-tail problems in the industry. “
Just as Tesla charges for its FSD software, so does Xpeng for its Xpilot. Xpeng didn’t say how much version 3.5 would cost, but version 3.0 currently costs around $ 3,200 (RMB 20,000), which can be purchased outright or paid for via an annual subscription, an Xpeng spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Xpilot 4.0 to provide full stage point-to-point ADAS
Xpeng’s Xpilot 4.0, slated to launch in the first half of 2023, would give the startup a head start in its race toward full autonomy. The plan is to be the first to deliver assisted intelligent driving experiences across the stage, from starting the vehicle to parking it and everything in between.
This version of Xpilot will require a lot of computing power, so Xpeng is building a hardware upgrade for version 4.0, “with computing power from the 508 TOPS ECU backed by two Orin-X self-driving System-on-units. the-Chip (SOC), 8 million pixel front view binocular camera and 2.9 million pixel side view cameras (covering front, rear, left and right view), and a highly integrated and expandable domain controller, ”the company said. it’s a statement.
By the end of next year, as it prepares to bring Xpilot 4.0 to market, Xpeng aims to have 75 million NGP highway miles driven and 22 million NGP city miles driven, as well as a 90% penetration rate of its function. memory parking. , Valet Parking Attendant (VPA).
Xpeng also emphasized the importance of safety when producing all of this ADAS, and smart driving is just one aspect of that. The startup announced an update to its user interface and operating system. Xmart OS 4.0 promises a detailed screen complete with a 3D representation of the environment around the vehicle. Xpeng is also releasing version 2.0 of its voice assistant to help make drives more fluid for drivers.
Finally, just as Tesla has released a safety score for drivers looking to test their FSD Beta software and also get a lot of data for their budding insurance line, Xpeng is launching a safety test to help drivers navigate understand the limits of the Xpilot before activating it. . Drivers will receive a smart driving score, but Xpeng did not specify when.
Superchargers that give up to 200 km of autonomy in 5 minutes
If Xpeng wants to create the smart mobility ecosystem of the future, it needs to empower it. The startup already has 1,648 free charging stations on its network and 439 branded supercharger stations across China, but during its Tech Day, Xpeng revealed plans to produce its next-generation silicon-based “X-Power” superchargers. 800V high voltage mass production Carbide charging pad.
X-Power chargers can give electric vehicles enough power to go up to 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, in just five minutes, and an average of 30 vehicles can be charged with a supercharger at a time, Xpeng says. The startup also plans to roll out 480 kW lightweight high-voltage supercharger piles, which come with Xpeng vehicles so owners can charge their cars for the first time. To support this supercharging network, Xpeng says it will launch energy storage facilities in both batteries and mobile vehicles.
Xpeng did not stipulate when this new charging technology will hit the market.
A flying car that also drives
At the event, Xpeng revealed its new goal of becoming the world’s leading manufacturer of low-altitude manned flying vehicles. He then laid out the plans for his sixth-generation flying car. But this is not just any flying car. This one will also be able to drive on the highway.
A video presented during the event showed a representation of a very sexy looking car, even sexier than the one Xpeng P7That converts from a normal car to a flying car through a folding rotor mechanism. Xpeng says the low-altitude flying vehicle will be 50% the weight of the P7 and will have a steering wheel for on-road operations, as well as a single stick for flight modes.
The new flying car will also feature an advanced environmental awareness system that can fully assess the surrounding environment and weather conditions to conduct safety assessments before take-off, the company says. The system will evaluate the data it collects against driving targets to ensure a safe takeoff and landing, and during the flight the advanced perception and flight control algorithm will be used to avoid obstacles.
Xpeng plans to begin mass production of this contraption, which is being developed by the Xpeng HT Aero-affiliated urban air mobility company (UAM), as early as 2024. The final design will be decided sometime next year, and Xpeng expects to price it below $ 157,000 (RMB 1 million).
Last week, Xpeng led HT Aero’s $ 500 million Series A raise, and HT Aero has produced other UAM vehicles for Xpeng, most recently the Xpeng X2, which is Xpeng’s fifth-generation flying car that seats two. An Xpeng spokesperson told TechCrunch that the sixth-generation flying car is built for similar use cases in the city, such as going from the office to the airport or other similar trips of less than 30 minutes of flight time. Xpeng’s philosophy is to sell direct to the consumer, so it will be interesting to see how low air regulations change to handle a fairly quick go-to-market strategy. The company did not go into further detail on how it would work with regulators to mass-produce its flying car for private use by 2024.
Walking the path to smart mobility on a robotic pony
Last month, Xpeng teased a pony-style robot that kids could ride and interact with. Ideally, the quadruped would be so perceptive that it could detect human emotions. During its Tech Day, Xpeng went into more detail about how it envisions smart robots like this pony to become a smart platform for an integrated smart mobility system that can tackle autonomy challenges much more complex than vehicles.
And it’s not just for kids. During the presentation, Xpeng showed a video demonstrating how the cute robotic pony could be used to deliver snacks and other packages in an office setting. (In that same video, Xpeng possibly made fun of another robotic animal that was also in the fictional office, and this one looked a bit like Xiaomi’s creepy robot dog.)
The robot will be able to perceive a diverse environment and multiple targets with 3D route planning, and will be able to recognize users through facial, body and voice fingerprints, Xpeng says. It is also experimenting with technologies such as dynamic acoustic mapping, bionic hearing, the bionic sense of smell, and even a bionic tactile experience through plantar and fingerprint touch and skin detection. Xpeng robots will have a 360-degree camera module and lidar detection system, as well as sound field and object recognition sensory technology so you can get the most accurate model of the environment to interact with.
An Xpeng spokesperson told TechCrunch that there is still no timeline on the road to the robotic pony market, but there is a prototype that is still in the development stage.
“By adopting higher target recognition and precise interaction, 3D route planning that enables more complex terrain mobility, and improved bionic senses, XPeng will bring better application scenarios to support wider mobility, more autonomous planning. and stronger human-machine interaction for the future of smart mobility, ”the company said in a statement.
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