Xpeng smart electric vehicle innovations to next-generation flying car

Chinese smart electric vehicle startup Xpeng has announced a series of innovations to next-generation flying car of the future.

“Our exploration of more efficient, safer, carbon-neutral mobility solutions goes far beyond just smart EVs, and is the cornerstone of our long-term competitive advantages,” said He Xiaopeng, chairman and CEO of XPeng, at 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 on the company’s latest versions of its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), its supercharger network, a next-generation flying car built with HT Aero and its robotic unicorn for kids.

Xpilot 3.5 will be designed for city driving

Xpeng is planning to roll out the next generation of its ADAS to 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 Xpeng’s P5 family sedan, which 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 is essential for city-level NGP.

The last Xpilot version, 3.0, which was available to drivers of Xpeng’s P7 sedan, handled highway-level NGP, through which Xpeng was able to gather 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 rule-driven and data-driven AI to handle city scenarios, like avoiding static objects and vulnerable road users, as well as lane changing at any speed, according to Xpeng.

Xpeng’s approach to reaching full autonomy is similar to Tesla’s, in that it aims to go through Level 2 autonomy, or ADAS systems, on its way to reaching Level 5. (SAE International describes Level 2 autonomy as having mainly support features, like adaptive cruise control and brake 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 like automatic lane change, moving into and out of parking spots and autosteering, which is currently not yet available for city streets. Tesla has given no 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 critical for the foreseeable future,” said XinZhou Wu, VP of autonomous driving at Xpeng, during the event. “Our mission is to progressively transition from advanced driver assistance to full autonomous driving, with a clear roadmap to first completely connect all driving scenarios. Our closed-loop data operation, software iteration and mass production capability – all created in-house – put us in pole position to significantly improve safety and resolve the industry’s long-tail issues.”

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 about $3,200 (RMB 20,000), which can be purchased outright or paid for via annual subscription

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