Main highlights of Xpeng Tech Day 2021 – TechCrunch

Chinese smart electric vehicle start-up Xpeng has announced a series of innovations that guide the company towards creating the mobility ecosystem of the future.

“Our exploration of more efficient, safer and carbon neutral mobility solutions goes well beyond intelligent electric vehicles and is the cornerstone of our long-term competitive advantages,” said He Xiaopeng, Chairman and CEO of XPeng , during the startup’s Tech Day 2021. in Beijing on Sunday. “We strive to implement advanced mobility technologies in mass production models for the benefit of our customers. “

Xiaopeng detailed the company’s latest versions of its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), its supercharging network, a new generation flying car built with HT Aero and his robotic unicorn for kids.

Xpilot 3.5 will be designed for city driving

Xpeng plans to roll out the next generation of its ADAS to drivers in select cities in the first half of 2022. Xpilot 3.5 will feature the “City Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP)” and will only be available to drivers of the P5 family sedan. Xpeng, which can be built with lidar, millimeter wave radar, and a 3D visual perception network capable of recognizing, classifying and positioning multiple targets, which is essential for city-level NGP.

The latest version of Xpilot, 3.0, which was available to drivers of Xpeng’s P7 sedan, handled the NGP at the highway level, thanks to which Xpeng was able to collect nearly 12 million kilometers, or 7.5 million kilometers. miles, of data.

Xpilot 3.5 will have a strategic planning module with advanced prediction capabilities that uses a combination of rule-based and data-driven AI to manage city scenarios, such as avoiding static objects and road users. vulnerable, as well as changing lanes at any speed, according to Xpeng.

Xpeng’s approach to achieving full autonomy is similar to Tesla’s, in that it aims to go through level 2 autonomy, or ADAS systems, on the way to reaching level 5. (SAE International describes range level 2 as having primarily assist functions, such as adaptive cruise control and brake assist. It describes Level 5 range, a system that can drive anywhere under any conditions.) Last month, Tesla released a software update that allows customers to request access to its Full Self software. -Driving Beta (FSD Beta). The FSD includes features such as automatic lane changing, entering and exiting parking spaces and automatic driving, which is currently not yet available for city streets. Tesla has not given any date as to when it will bring this capability to cities, which will be powered using only vision and neural network processing.

“Human-machine co-pilot functions will remain essential for the foreseeable future,” XinZhou Wu, vice president of autonomous driving at Xpeng, said at the event. “Our The mission is to gradually move from advanced driving assistance to fully autonomous driving, with a clear roadmap to fully connect all driving scenarios first. Our closed-loop data mining, software iteration, and mass production capability – all built in-house – put us in pole position to dramatically improve security and solve long-tail issues in the industry.

Just as Tesla charges for its FSD software, Xpeng does the same for its Xpilot. Xpeng did not specify how much version 3.5 would cost, but version 3.0 currently costs around $ 3,200 (20,000 RMB), which can be purchased directly or paid for through an annual subscription, an Xpeng spokesperson told TechCrunch. .

Xpilot 4.0 to deliver full point-to-point ADAS

Xpeng’s Xpilot 4.0, slated for deployment in the first half of 2023, would give the startup an edge in its race for full autonomy. The plan is to be the first to deliver scenario-assisted intelligent driving experiences, from starting the vehicle to parking 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 a computing power of 508 TOPS ECUs supported by two autonomous driving system on a chip (SOC) units. Orin-X, 8 million pixel front binocular camera and 2.9 million pixel side cameras (covering front, rear, left and right views), and a highly integrated and expandable domain controller, ”the company said in a statement.

By the end of next year, as it prepares to release Xpilot 4.0, Xpeng aims to have 75 million NGP highway miles and 22 million NGP city miles, along with a penetration rate. 90% of its memory parking function. , Valet parking assistance (VPA).

Xpeng also stressed the importance of safety when producing all of these ADAS, and smart driving is just one aspect of that. The startup announced an upgrade to its user interface and operating system. The Xmart OS 4.0 promises a detailed display with a 3D rendering of the environment surrounding the vehicle. Xpeng is also rolling out version 2.0 of its voice assistant to help make driving smoother for drivers.

Finally, just as Tesla released a safety score for drivers who want to test its FSD Beta software, and also get heaps of data for its budding insurance line, Xpeng is launching a safety test to help drivers understand. Xpilot limits before activating it. . Drivers will receive a smart driving score, but Xpeng did not specify when.

Superchargers that offer up to 200 km of autonomy in 5 minutes

If Xpeng is to create the intelligent mobility ecosystem of the future, it must fuel it. The startup already has 1,648 free charging stations in its network and 439 branded supercharging stations across China, but during its Tech Day, Xpeng revealed plans to produce its next generation of “X-Power” compressors. »Based on 800 V series high voltage silicon. Carbide loading platform.

X-Power chargers can give electric vehicles enough power to travel up to 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, in just five minutes, and an average of 30 vehicles can be recharged on a compressor at a time, Xpeng explains. The startup also plans to roll out lightweight, high-voltage 480 kW superchargers, which come with Xpeng vehicles so that owners can charge their cars, for the first time. In order to support this supercharging network, Xpeng announces that it will launch energy storage facilities in batteries and mobile vehicles.

Xpeng did not say when this new charging technology will hit the market.

A flying car that rolls too

At the event, Xpeng revealed its new goal of becoming the world’s leading manufacturer of low-altitude manned flying vehicles. She then presented the plans for her sixth generation flying car. But this is not just any flying car. This can also be driven on the road.

A video shown at the event showed a rendering of a very sexy car, even sexier than the Xpeng P7, which changes from a normal car to a flying car thanks to a folding rotor mechanism. Xpeng says the low-flying vehicle will weigh 50 percent of the P7’s weight, and that it will have a steering wheel for on-road operations as well as a single lever for flight modes.

The new flying car will also feature an advanced environmental perception system capable of fully assessing the environment and weather conditions in order to conduct pre-take-off safety assessments, the company said. The system will benchmark the data it collects against driving goals to ensure a safe takeoff and landing, and during flight, the advanced perception and flight control algorithm will be used to avoid obstacles.

Xpeng plans to start mass production of this machine, which is being developed by Xpeng’s urban air mobility (UAM) affiliate, HT Aero, as early as 2024. The final design is to be decided within the next year. and Xiaopeng said that Xpeng is aiming for the cost to be less than $ 157,000 (RMB 1 million).

Last week, Xpeng led the $ 500 million increase in HT Aero’s A-series, and HT Aero produced other UAM vehicles for Xpeng, most recently the Xpeng X2, which is Xpeng’s fifth-generation flying car that can accommodate two people. An Xpeng spokesperson told TechCrunch that the sixth-generation flying car is designed for similar use cases in the city, such as going from the office to the airport, or other similar trips under 30 minutes of travel time. flight time. Xpeng’s philosophy is to sell direct to the consumer, so it will be interesting to see how low-level air regulations evolve to handle a fairly fast-to-market strategy. The company has not explained in more detail how it will work with regulators to mass-produce its private-use flying car by 2024.

On the road to intelligent mobility on a robotic pony

Last month, Xpeng teased a pony-style robot that kids could ride and interact with. The quadruped would ideally be so perceptive that they would be able to sense human emotions. During his Tech Day, Xpeng explained in more detail how he predicts intelligent robots like this pony to become a smart platform for an integrated intelligent mobility system that can tackle range challenges far more complex than vehicles. .

And it’s not just for kids. During the presentation, Xpeng released a video showing how the cute robotic pony could be used to deliver snacks and other packages to an office. (In that same video, Xpeng may have teased another robotic animal that was also hanging out in the fictional office, and this one looked a bit like Xiaomi’s spooky robot dog.)

The robot will be trained to perceive a diverse environment and multiple targets with 3D route planning, and it will be able to recognize users through facial, body and voice imprints, Xpeng explains. He’s also experimenting with technologies like dynamic acoustic mapping, bionic hearing, bionic smell, and even a bionic tactile experience through plantar touch and fingerprints and skin sensing. Xpeng’s robots will have a 360-degree camera module and lidar detection system, as well as object recognition technology and sound field sensors so that it can get the most model. precise of the environment with which to interact.

An Xpeng spokesperson told TechCrunch that there is no timeline for commercializing the robotic pony yet, but there is a prototype that is still in development.

“With the adoption of better target recognition and precise interaction, 3D route planning that enables more complex terrain mobility and improved bionic senses, XPeng will bring larger application scenarios. to support wider mobility, more autonomous planning and stronger human-machine interaction for the future of intelligent mobility, ”the company said in a statement.

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