On August 14, the official Wechat for “Meiyihao” published an obituary for its founder, Lin Wenqin, stating that he had died on August 12 in a traffic accident. The release mentions that Lin’s vehicle, a Nio ES8, had its autonomous driving function (NOP pilot status) engaged at the time of the accident.
“Navigate on Pilot (NOP) is not the same as autonomous driving. The results of subsequent investigations will be public,” said a staff member from Nio‘s brand department.
According to images of the scene that have spread online, the ES8 driven by Mr. Lin hit a bucket on the side of the road and then hit a highway maintenance vehicle in the fast lane at high speed, causing the vehicle to violently overturn. Some online commenters pointed out that the speed limit at the site is 120 kilometers per hour.
Nio launched the NOP function at the Beijing Auto Show in September 2020, and soon after unveiled its ability to automatically assist driving in accordance with the navigation route under the specified path.
The system works on the basis of adaptive cruise, lane departure suppression and other functions. Through the navigation system, it can automatically change lanes, overtake another vehicle, enter/leave highway ramps, control the driving speed, and other operations.
According to Nio‘s website, the ES8 is equipped with the NIO Pilot automatic assist driving hardware system, which uses a trinocular, four round-view cameras, five millimeter-wave radars and twelve ultrasonic sensors.
Nio makes it clear in the manual that “like Pilot and other driver assistance functions, NOP cannot respond to static obstacles, such as roadblocks, warning triangles, etc. If there is an accident or construction area ahead, please immediately take over the vehicle to control the direction and speed.
A NIO EC6 owner confirmed to Chinese media outlet Huxiu that by engaging the NOP function does not require the driver to watch a video or answer any questions or other similar learning measures. A Nio salesman also confirmed, “We will explain the function in the test drive and emphasize its abilities. The assisting driving requires the owner to be ready to take over. But I don’t think there are any instructional videos.”
Nio‘s rival, Li Auto, noted that drivers of its 2021 Ideal ONE model will go through two lessons upon delivery. In the first lesson, the user will be given a piece of driving assistance when picking up the car. After activating the car, the user must watch a video about the the driving assistance function before activating the feature.
Guidance released by the MIIT on August 12 shows that enterprises shall set up a self-checking mechanism. If they find any problems in regard to data security, network security, online upgrade safety, driving assistance and automatic driving safety, they shall immediately stop the production and sale of relevant products and correct them immediately.