China's EV startup Xpeng is Demonstrating its Autonomous Driving Capabilities with a 7-Day, 3,000 km Road Trip Through China

China's EV startup Xpeng is Demonstrating its Autonomous Driving Capabilities with a 7-Day, 3,000 km Road Trip Through China

Author: Eric Walz   

Chinese electric vehicle startup Xpeng recently announced that the latest version of its autonomous driving suite called Navigation Guided Pilot or "NGP", would be rolling out to vehicle's via an OTA update starting in January. NGP is available on Xpeng's newest electric vehicle the P7 sedan, which supports automated highway driving, including the ability to automatically change lanes. 

The NGP feature requires XPeng's latest autonomous driving system called XPILOT 3.0, which is offered in the company's fully-electric P7 Smart Sedan. The P7 launched in April 2020 as a competitor to the Tesla Model S in China. 

Last month, Xpeng reported that drivers that traveled a cumulative distance of 1,023,884 kilometers (636,212 miles) in the first 25 days that the latest version of NGP was released on Jan 26. The strong start indicates that the new NGP automated driving features are popular with drivers in China.

As a way to promote the enhanced capabilities of its latest autonomous driving hardware and software, Xpeng is embarking on a 7-day road trip with a fleet of its P7 sedans. The trip will eventually cover a distance of 3,675 km (2,283 miles) across six provinces in China. 

Xpeng's NGP is built to handle complex driving scenarios on China's highways. The NGP automated driving feature allows drivers to simply enter a destination and the company's P7 sedan will navigate to it without human intervention in most cases. Xpeng considers its to be a SAE level-3 autonomous driving system, which means that the system can operate without human intervention. It's available on highways in China that are covered by high-precision maps from Chinese navigation company AutoNavi. 

The 7-day journey will be the longest autonomous driving expedition by mass-produced vehicles in China, Xpeng said.

The fleet of P7 sedans will drive across 10 major cities in China, starting from Guangzhou in Southern China. The fleet will also travel through Shanghai and Nanjing before ending in the capital city of Beijing on March 26.

Xpeng's 3,000 km road trip is joined by more than 200 auto journalists, EV enthusiasts and industry experts over the course of 7 days from March 19-26th, the company said. 

Now Xpeng has shared the first day details of the 3,000 km journey that began on March 19, and the stats are impressive.

Xpeng reported that NGP required human intervention just 0.6 times for each 100 km driven, meaning that the safety drivers had to intervene very little during the first day of the journey. The company announced the daily average distance driven per car was 380km (236 miles). 

The company also reported that NGP's new lane change features, as well the P7's ability to overtake slower moving traffic, had a success rate of 93.4%. 

Xpeng's latest version of NGP can also navigate highway exit and entrance ramps without human intervention. Xpeng reported a first day success rate of 83.7% for navigation on-ramps or highway exits.

Xpeng's NGP even works in tunnels which were along the route on day one. The tunnel pass through success rate was 99.6%, Xpeng reported.

In addition to the robust highway driving capabilities of NGP, it can also automatically identify and avoid traffic cones, warn the driver of upcoming construction sites or toll booths, navigate in stop-and-go traffic, avoid disabled vehicles and large trucks, and warn drivers of when to resume manual control of the vehicle in certain situations, such as in adverse weather.

NGP was developed entirely in-house by Xpeng. The company prides itself on developing all of its own advanced technology. Roughly half of Xpeng's employees work in R&D at the company, a majority of them work solely on the development of self-driving technology.

During the first 25 days of the launch of NGP from Jan 26 through Feb 20, Xpeng said the automatic lane changing and overtaking features were used 131,484 times, and automatic highway ramp entering and exiting were conducted 105,943 times.

Xpeng's P7 with available self-driving features is a strong rival to Tesla's flagship Model S in China. The P7 was also named as the longest range EV sold in China with an NEDC range of 706km (438 miles). 

In total, the P7 sedan uses 31 sensors for autonomous driving functions.

The P7 is China's only mass produced sedan with 360-degree dual camera and a radar fusion perception system for added safety. The electric sedan is outfitted with 14 cameras, 5 millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, lidar, centimeter-level high-definition GPS positioning, decimeter-level high-definition mapping.

Xpeng plans to share more details of the 7-day road trip over the next week.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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