Top highlights from Xpeng’s 2021 Tech Day – TechCrunch

Xpeng, a Chinese startup that makes smart electric vehicles in China, has revealed a number of innovations that will help the company create the mobility ecosystem of tomorrow.
He Xiaopeng (chairman and CEO of XPeng), spoke at the Startups 2021 Tech Day in Beijing, Sunday. He said that our pursuit of safer, more efficient and carbon-neutral mobility solutions is far beyond smart EVs. For the benefit of our customers, we strive to put cutting-edge mobility technology in mass-production models.

Xiaopeng discussed the company's most recent versions of its advanced driver assist system (ADAS), supercharger network, and a next-generation flying vehicle built with HT Aero.

Xpilot 3.5 is designed for city driving

Xpeng will begin rolling out its next generation of its ADAS in selected cities within the first half 2022. Xpilot 3.5 will include City Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP). This feature will only be available for drivers of Xpeng's P5 family sedan. It can be built using lidar, millimeter wave radar, and a 3D vision network that can recognize and classify multiple targets.

Drivers of Xpengs P7 sedan had access to the 3.0 version of Xpilot. This version handled highway-level NGP. Xpeng was able collect nearly 12,000,000 kilometers or 7.5million miles of data through this NGP.

Xpilot 3.5 will include a strategic planning module that uses a combination data-driven and rule-driven AI to manage city scenarios. This includes avoiding vulnerable road users and static objects, as well as lane changes at any speed.

Xpeng's path to full autonomy is very similar to Teslas. It aims to reach Level 2, or ADAS, and then move on to Level 5. SAE International defines Level 2 autonomy as mainly supporting features like brake support and adaptive cruise control. It defines Level 5 autonomy as a system that can drive in all weather conditions. Tesla last month released a software update which allows customers to request full access to FSD Beta software. FSD features include automatic lane changes, moving into and exiting parking spots, and autosteering. This functionality is not currently available on city streets. Tesla has not yet announced a date for the introduction of this capability to cities. It will only be powered by vision and neural network processing.

XinZhou Wu (VP of autonomous driving at Xpeng) stated that human-machine copilot functions will continue to be critical in the future. Our mission is to gradually transition from advanced driver assist to fully autonomous driving. We have a clear roadmap that will allow us to connect all driving scenarios. We are able to improve safety and solve industry long-tail problems with our closed-loop data operation and software iteration.

Xpeng charges for its Xpilot software just like Tesla does. Xpeng did not disclose the price of version 3.5, but it stated that version 3.0 costs $3,200 (RMB 20,000). A spokesperson for Xpeng told TechCrunch that version 3.0 can be bought either directly or through an annual subscription.

Xpilot 4.0 to provide full-scenario point-to-point ADAS

Xpengs Xpilot 4.0 is scheduled for a rollout in the first half 2023. This would give the startup an advantage in its race to full autonomous driving. It is a goal to become the first company to offer full-scenario smart driving experiences that assist with turning on and parking the vehicle.

This new version of Xpilot requires a lot more compute power. Xpeng has begun to build a hardware upgrade for version 4.0. It includes 508 TOPS ECU compute powers, two OrinX autonomous driving System on the Chip (SOC), 2.9-million-pixel sideview cameras and an 8-million-pixel front view binocular camera. The company also announced that a highly integrated and expandable Domain Controller will be available.

As it prepares for Xpilot 4.0's release, Xpeng aims at having 75 million NGP miles driven on highways and 22 million NGP miles driven in cities by the end of next-year.

Xpeng stressed safety in generating all this ADAS. Smart driving is just one example. The startup has announced an upgrade of its user interface, and operating system. The Xmart OS 4.0 will offer a detailed display with a 3D rendering the environment around the vehicle. Xpeng will also be releasing version 2.0 of its voice assistant, to make driving easier.

Finally, Tesla released a safety score to drivers who want to test FSD Beta software. Xpeng will also release a safety test that will help drivers to understand the limits of Xpilot before activating. Xpeng did not specify when drivers will get a smart driving score.

Superchargers with up to 200km range in just 5 minutes

Xpeng must power the future smart mobility ecosystem if it wants to succeed. The startup has already 1,648 charging stations and 439 branded stations across China. However, Xpeng announced plans to manufacture its next generation XPower superchargers based upon a 800V high voltage mass-production Silicon Carbide charging platform.

Xpeng claims that the X-Power chargers can charge EVs for up to 200 km or 125 miles in five minutes. On average, 30 vehicles can be charged simultaneously on one supercharger. The startup will also roll out lightweight, 480 kW, high-voltage supercharging piles that can be used to charge Xpeng vehicles for the first time. Xpeng will also launch power storage facilities for piles and mobile cars to help support the supercharging network.

Xpeng didn't specify when the new charging technology would be available for sale.

Flying car that drives!

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Xpeng announced its new goal of becoming the world's best low-altitude manned aircraft manufacturer at the event. The plans for the sixth generation of its flying car were then revealed. This isn't just any flying car. It will be able also to drive on the roads.

A video of a car that can convert from a regular car to a flying vehicle using a foldable rotor mechanism was shown during the event. Xpeng claims that the low-altitude flying vehicle, which will weigh half as much as the P7, will have a steering wheel for driving and a single lever to control flight modes.

According to the company, the new flying car will have an advanced environment perception system. This system can evaluate the weather and surrounding environment in order to perform safety assessments prior to take-off. To ensure safe landing and take-off, the system will compare the data collected with driving objectives. During flight, the advanced perception and flight control algorithm can be used to avoid obstacles.

Xpeng plans to start mass production of this contraption in 2024. It is being developed by Xpeng's affiliate, urban air mobility (UAM), company HT Aero. The final design will be determined by Xpeng sometime in the next year. It is expected to retail for less than $157,000 (RMB 1,000,000).

Xpeng was the leader of HT Aero's Series A raise of $500 million. HT Aero also produced other UAM vehicles, including the Xpeng X2, which Xpengs fifth gen flying vehicle that can carry two people. TechCrunch was told by a spokesperson for Xpeng that the sixth generation flying car is designed for similar city uses, such as going from the office or airport to another similar trip in under 30 minutes. Xpeng's philosophy is to sell directly to consumers. It will be interesting to see how low altitude regulations change to accommodate a fast go-to market strategy. The company didn't go into detail about how it would collaborate with regulators to mass produce its flying car for private consumption by 2024.

Ride the robotic horse to smart mobility

Last month, Xpeng teased a pony-style robotic that children could ride and interact. The quadruped should be so perceptive it could detect human emotions. Xpeng explained in detail how smart robots such as this pony will be used to create an integrated smart mobility platform that can solve far more complex autonomous challenges than vehicles during its Tech Day.

It's not only for children. Xpeng showed a video demonstrating how the adorable robotic pony could be used in office settings to deliver snacks and parcels. (Xpeng may have teased another robot animal in the same video. It was seen hanging out in an office setting, and it looked a lot like Xiaomi's creepy robot dog.

Xpeng says that the robot will learn to recognize faces, bodies, and voices and can perceive multiple targets and different environments with 3D route planning. The robot is also exploring technologies such as dynamic acoustic maps, bionic hearing and bionic senses of smell. It can even experience a bionic tactile sensation through plantar, fingerprint, and skin sensing. The Xpengs robots have a 360-degree camera module, lidar sensing technology, object recognition, and sound field sensory technology. This allows them to build the most accurate model of their environment.

TechCrunch was told by Xpeng spokesperson that the path to market for the robotic pony is not clear yet. However, a prototype is still being developed.

XPeng's adoption of better target recognition and precise interaction, enhanced bionic senses and 3D route planning that enables complex terrain mobility, and enhanced biological senses will allow for greater application scenarios to support greater mobility, greater autonomous planning, stronger human-machine interaction and support smart mobility in the future, the company stated in a statement.

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