Xpeng announces next-gen autonomous architecture

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Chinese EV manufacturer Xpeng has announced details of its next generation of autonomous vehicle technology. The company has upgraded its autonomous driving software and hardware systems for 2021 production models, becoming the first car manufacturer to adopt lidar in a production application.

“Introducing lidar technology into production vehicles is a breakthrough in popularizing autonomous driving, and an endorsement of our in-house R&D process. Our customers will benefit from this premium advanced technology, which makes autonomous driving more driver-friendly, safe and effective,” remarked He Xiaopeng, chairman and CEO of Xpeng.

The new hardware architecture harnesses a combination of high-definition (HD) cameras, millimeter-wave radars, ultrasonic sensors, lidar and high-precision positioning and mapping systems, all powered by a high-performance computing platform.

Equipped with a total of 32 sensors, Xpeng says the system provides reliable hardware redundancy, effectively avoiding single-system failure to deliver enhanced safety protection. It will also cover more usage scenarios, effectively enabling vehicles to perform low-speed navigation guided pilot (NGP) functions for city driving.

The software architecture is based on a full-stack of in-house-developed technologies, consisting of multiple modules: perception, behavior planning, behavior/motion prediction and map fusion, among others, forming a fully closed loop of data and algorithms to support rapid functional iteration.

Among the specific upgrades are a new XPU autonomous driving intelligent control unit, which integrates vehicle control and parking functions, for more efficient decision making. At the same time this reduces the number of controllers and wiring harnesses in the vehicle, meaning the weight of the system is reduced.

The real-time kinematic (RTK) terminal has been upgraded from 4G to 5G, supporting precise positioning with high-precision maps for high-speed roads as well as urban roads. A new positioning scheme (IMU+GNSS+RTK (5G) with high-precision maps for both highways and city roads has been adopted to achieve centimeter-level accuracy. With pinpoint positioning, Xpeng claims latency is reduced to milliseconds, and a driving scenario coverage rate of over 97.5% is possible.

The company’s high-performance computing platform will also be upgraded from 30 TOPS to over 200 TOPS in the future, delivering a nearly tenfold increase in computing power from 10 trillion operations per second to several hundred trillion per second. Xpeng notes the system is designed with the capacity to further increase computing power, supporting the implementation of higher-level autonomous driving functions.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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