XPeng, a Chinese smart EV company and emerging rival to EV darling Tesla, unveiled on Monday the beta version of its highway autonomous driving solution, Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP), in a series of media road tests in the Hong Kong port city of Guangzhou.
Announced on January 15 at the end of a series of media road tests with over 100 journalists, XPeng’s NGP highway autonomous driving solution is expected to be launched to Chinese customers in the following weeks via an over-the-air upgrade, part of the company’s XPILOT 3.0 autonomous driving package.
XPeng’s newly unveiled NGP represents another entry in the slowly scaling-up development of autonomous driving – expanding various intelligent technologies to include greater autonomous controls. XPeng’s NGP automates highway driving with automatic lane switching, speed limit adjustments, automatic overtaking, automatic entering and exiting, and optimised lane choices.
The XPeng P7 is China’s only mass-production car boasting a 360-degrees dual camera and radar fusion perception system, fitted with 14 cameras, 5 millimetre-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, centimetre-level high-definition positioning, decimeter-level AutoNavi high-definition mapping, NVIDIA Xavier system-on-the-chip computing platform, and Bosch iBooster brake system.
Designed specifically for China’s complex driving environment, XPeng’s NGP full-scenario high-definition positioning solves HD-map positioning challenges for the highly complex road conditions native to China’s high population areas, including those areas with no GPS signals.
Further, NGP can identify and avoid traffic cones, warn of difficult situations such as construction sites or road toll entrances, follow on automatically in traffic jams, avoid vehicles that have broken down, change lanes to avoid emergencies, avoid large trucks, and warn drivers of when to resume manual control in dangerous situations such as adverse weather or road accidents.
XPeng’s P7 began delivery to customers in June of 2020, and of the 27,041 vehicles delivered in 2020, more than half were the company’s P7 EV.
With a promised range of 706km (NEDC) and a starting price of RMB229,900 ($A50,150 converted) with its top of the range variant priced up to RMB349,000 ($A76,430 converted), the P7 range includes an entry-level RWD model and an AWD high-performance variant.
XPeng hopes to challenge American EV manufacturer Tesla with its own autonomous driving function, Autopilot. All new Tesla vehicles are billed as coming standard with “advanced hardware capable of providing Autopilot features today, and full self-driving capabilities in the future—through software updates designed to improve functionality over time.”
Tesla’s Autopilot is powered by eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a forward-facing radar. Currently, Autopilot allows Tesla vehicles to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically within its lane, but highlighting the evolving nature of autonomous driving, Tesla is quick to remind drivers that “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”