Chinese EV maker Xpeng launches competitor to Tesla’s Full Self Driving system

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Xpeng has launched a feature that allows its cars to navigate semi-autonomously through urban environments, marking its latest challenge for the US electric vehicle giant You’re here.

The Chinese startup announced on Monday that it is piloting a feature known as City NGP, which stands for guided pilot in navigation.

Xpeng claims City NGP will allow the vehicle to perform a “full range of driving tasks”, including cruising at a “safe distance” from a car ahead, changing lanes and overtaking, evading automobiles or stationary objects and maintaining an “appropriate speed”. ” through the course.

It is designed specifically for urban areas rather than highways. Urban areas are more complicated environments for autonomous driving due to the number of potential objects and scenarios a driver may encounter.

City NGP is being tested with some users of the top-end version of its P5 sedan in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where the company is headquartered, he said.

City NGP was first announced last year, when Xpeng releases Xpilot 3.5, the latest version of its Advanced Driver Assistance System, or ADAS. The software allows the car to perform certain driving functions automatically, but requires a driver behind the wheel.

Xpilot and City NGP is Xpeng’s answer to Tesla’s Fully Autonomous Betawhich the company is currently testing with customers in the United States After testing Tesla’s beta FSD, CNBC reported that it is still marred by technical issues and far from ready for mass deployment.

Charles Zhang, vice president of Xpeng, told CNBC on Monday that the City NGP pilot brings the company “one step closer to full autonomy.”

However, Xpeng will likely need to prove its system’s reliability and security before Chinese regulators allow the company to roll out the feature across Guangzhou city, let alone the country.

Advanced self-driving features have become a key selling point for the plethora of Chinese electric car companies in what has become a fiercely competitive market. Xpeng’s rivals including Nio and Baidu’s Jidu, the electric vehicle company, all develop such technology.

Xpeng said those testing City NGP will need to download it through an update. Drivers will also have to undergo a seven-day “familiarization period” with the system and complete more than 100 kilometers of driving, before City NGP can be used on all available roads.

Xpeng is testing the City Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP) with some users of its P5 sedan in the city of Guangzhou in southern China. City NGP is designed to allow the car to autonomously perform tasks such as changing lanes or overtaking vehicles in a complex urban environment. A driver is always required behind the wheel.

Zhe Ji | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The P5 sedan, which was launched last year, is equipped with so-called Lidar, or Light Detection and Ranging, technology. Lidar uses laser beams to create a three-dimensional representation of the vehicle’s surroundings, which will help enable semi-autonomous driving features.

Xpeng said its City NGP will be available in future models of its next G9 sport utility vehiclewhich will be launched on Wednesday in China.

Restrictions on Nvidia chips

Xpeng’s self-driving system, like many of its rivals, is based on semiconductors from the American company Nvidia.

Last month, the US government restricted Nvidia to export some chips – primarily designed to go into data centers and train artificial intelligence models – in China.

“The export license required is for the server-side chip…not on the car itself. So I think for the AI ​​(artificial intelligence) chips used in our electric vehicles…it’s for civilian use, so I don’t think right now we’re doing it. ‘I don’t see any risk from the restrictions,’ said Zhang of Xpeng.

CNBC previously reported that the majority of Chinese EV makers will be shielded from U.S. restrictions on Nvidia chip exports for now, as semiconductors under Washington’s rules relate to data centers.

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