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China's EV Startup Xpeng Unveils the Beta Version of its Advanced Self-Driving Feature Called ‘Navigation Guided Pilot'

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【Summary】Chinese EV startup and Tesla competitor Xpeng is one step closer to goal for self-driving cars. The company unveiled the beta version of its autonomous driving feature called Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP), which is similar to Tesla’s Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving feature. NGP is a key feature of Xpeng’s XPILOT 3.0 autonomous driving platform.

Eric Walz    Jan 15, 2021 3:25 PM PT
China's EV Startup Xpeng Unveils the Beta Version of its Advanced Self-Driving Feature Called ‘Navigation Guided Pilot'

Chinese EV startup and Tesla competitor Xpeng is one step closer to goal for self-driving cars. The company unveiled the beta version of its autonomous driving feature called Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP), which is similar to Tesla's Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving feature.

The automated highway driving feature allows drivers to simply enter a destination and the company's P7 Smart Sedan will be able to navigate to it without human intervention in most cases. Xpeng considers its to be a level 3 autonomous system.

The smart system will follow the route guidance while executing autonomous lane changes, switching to high-speed routes, and selecting the optimal route in real-time, the company said.

Xpeng as a company has invested heavily in autonomous driving. Roughly half of the company's employees work in R&D of new technology for the electric automaker. Many of these employees work solely on autonomous driving.

The Company plans to launch the production version of NGP to customers in China in the next few weeks.  NGP is a key feature of Xpeng's XPILOT 3.0 autonomous driving platform. XPILOT version 3.0 is the latest iteration of Xpeng's XPILOT and will supersede XPILOT 2.0.

When launched, it will be offered on the Premium version of XPeng's P7 sedan equipped with the XPILOT 3.0 system.

With over a million kilometers of road tests completed, NGP is tailored specifically for China's roads. It offers high-definition positioning capability which solves HD-map positioning challenges for China's complex and crowded road conditions, even in areas where there is no GPS signal. 

NGP can automatically identify and avoid traffic cones, warn the driver of upcoming construction sites or toll booths, perform stop and go driving in traffic, avoid disabled vehicles, avoid large trucks and warn drivers of when to resume manual control of the vehicle in dangerous situations, such as adverse weather or road accidents.

NPG offers a higher lane change success rate Xpeng said, as well as a low driver intervention requirement than similar systems found in other models on the market in China, the company claims.

The new NGP function will make highway driving easier for drivers by automatically performing speed limit adjustments  when there are no other vehicles ahead or automatic switching to highways to get to the destination faster. It can also choose the best travel lane on the highway automatically overtake and pass slower moving traffic. The system can also autonomously navigate highway entrance and exit ramps. 

Xpeng said that the beta version of NGP was well received by over 100 journalists who participated in test drives in China this week and got to experience the technology firsthand. 

p7.0.png

The Xpeng P7 sedan will offer advanced autonomous driving capabilities with the launch of XPILOT 3.0 next month.

Xpeng's P7 is a formidable rival to Tesla's Model S in China. The P7 was launched in April 2020 and deliveries to customers in China began last June. The P7 was also named as the longest range EV sold in China with an NEDC range of 706km (438 miles). 

The electric sedan offers the same level of technology for around half the price of the Model S. To enable such a high level of performance the P7 comes packed with hardware. Xpeng claims its the most powerful production vehicle in China.  

The P7 is China's only mass production car with 360-degree dual camera and radar fusion perception system for added safety. The P7 is outfitted with 14 cameras, 5 millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, lidar, centimeter-level high-definition GPS positioning, decimeter-level high-definition mapping using maps from Chinese navigation company AutoNavi.

Xpeng is the first automaker to add lidar to its vehicle during production. The lidar will significantly improve the vehicle's high-precision object recognition performance, according to Xpeng.

"Introducing Lidar technology into production vehicles is a breakthrough in popularizing autonomous driving, and an endorsement of our in-house R&D process. Our customers will benefit from this premium advanced technology, which makes autonomous driving more driver-friendly, safe and effective," said He Xiaopeng, Chairman & CEO of Xpeng during a presentation at Auto Guangzhou 2020 in November.

In total, the P7 uses 31 sensors for autonomous driving functions.

The P7 also uses NVIDIA's Xavier system-on-the-chip computing platform, which is one of the world's most powerful compute platforms for self-driving vehicles. 

The Xpeng P7 is the company's first EV that's powered by the new NVIDIA DRIVE platform, which features the company's high-performance Xavier system-on-a-chip (SoC). Nvidia's AI-powered Xavier SoC is a powerhouse, delivering 30 TOPS (trillions of operations per second) for performance while consuming just 30 watts of power. 

Nvidia is a leading developer of hardware development for autonomous vehicles around the world due to the robust processing capabilities of its SoCs. Nvidia has made it easier for startup automakers like Xpeng to develop self-driving technology. 

Xpeng's NGP will be launched via an OTA (over-the-air) upgrade for XPeng P7 customers in China before the Chinese New Year in February, the company said.

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