XPeng Sets New Benchmark in China’s Longest Autonomous Driving Challenge
Chinese electric vehicle startup XPeng Motors’ strong technological edge is boosting the company’s position in the highly competitive electric vehicle (EV) sector, amid accelerated efforts in shaping the future of mobility.
Its P7 sports smart sedan and G3 smart compact SUV are very popular among China’s tech-savvy middle-class consumers. Proof be that the company delivered more than 13,000 EVs in the first quarter of 2021, marking a 487% jump year-over-year. March deliveries for XPeng reached 5,102 units, a 384% increase year-over-year and a 130% increase month-over-month.
Last week, the company concluded an eight-day-long autonomous driving challenge spanning more than 3,600 kilometers across six Chinese provinces.
The road trip, said to be China’s longest highway autonomous driving challenge using mass-produced vehicles, put its Navigation Guided Pilot, or NGP, to the ultimate test.
XPeng’s NGP, which enables primarily unassisted highway driving from point A to B based on the navigation route set by the driver, is a direct challenger to Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot (NoA).
The NGP is enabled on the P7’s XPILOT 3.0 advanced driver-assistance system, which includes 14 cameras, 5 millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, high-definition positioning and mapping, as well as an NVIDIA Xavier processor and a Bosch iBooster brake system.
The fleet of XPeng P7s started off in Guangzhou on March 19 and arrived in Beijing on March 26, driving for 2,930 kilometers under the NGP control on various highways. The route was specially chosen to cover some of the most complex road conditions and driving scenarios in China to fully test the NGP’s responses and effectiveness.
Pandaily took one of the P7s on a test drive, starting our trip from Jinan – the capital of Shandong province – and arriving in Cangzhou, Hebei.
During the 217 kilometer journey, the vehicle smoothly entered and exited highway ramps. It was also able to automatically and safely switch lanes as well as overtaking other vehicles.
The automaker concluded that with XPeng’s NGP function, the average frequency of human driver intervention was as low as 0.71 times per hundred kilometers. This means that the car would have been traveling in autonomous mode for 140 kilometers on average before a driver was forced to intervene. This record has set a new benchmark for long-distance autonomous driving by mass-manufactured passenger vehicles.
The expedition also achieved a 94.4% success rate for lane changing and overtaking as well as a 92% success rate for highway ramp entering and exiting. The average tunnel pass-through success rate reached 94.95%.
Since the rollout of the NGP’s public beta version in late January, cumulative user mileage has exceeded 1.7 million kilometers, the company announced.
“The expedition has fully challenged the robustness and reliability of the NGP function. The results demonstrate that it is not only the strongest, but also the easiest-to-use autonomous driving function for production vehicles available in the market,” said XPeng Chairman and CEO He Xiaopeng at a press briefing in Beijing following the expedition.
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Mr. He added: “We strive to become the world’s top autonomous driving hardware and software provider, and our strategy and R&D capabilities place us well in achieving this goal.”
XPeng is building its second wholly-owned plant in Guangzhou and will have a lineup of seven to eight models by 2024. The Chinese EV maker also announced the latest version of its NGP, scheduled to launch through an over-the-air update in the second quarter of this year.