China's new Tesla Model 3 rival has world-first tech

Tesla's Chinese rival shows it doesn't particularly care what Elon Musk thinks

17w ago

The battle for the Chinese electric vehicle market is heating up between Tesla and Xpeng with the release of the Xpeng P5 earlier this month. The Xpeng P5 is the first car in the world to be released with LiDAR technology forming the backbone of its advanced driver assistance system - a technology that Elon Musk famously called 'expensive and unnecessary.

Anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed. Expensive sensors that are unnecessary. It’s like having a whole bunch of expensive appendices... you’ll see.

Elon Musk, 2019

LiDAR uses a pulsed laser to measure variable distances between a vehicle and surrounding objects and when combined with additional data can generate very precise 3D information about the surrounding environment to allow precise depth estimation of small moving objects, even in dark or low-light conditions.

The choice to go all-in on LiDAR is particularly interesting given a lawsuit between Xpeng and Tesla that was settled earlier this year. The lawsuit alleged that a former employee Tesla stole source code from Tesla's Autopilot feature by uploading it to his iCloud account and neglecting to delete it after he left Tesla and started working at Xpeng.

As proof, Tesla demanded that Xpeng disclose its own autonomous driving source code, a move that Xpeng labeled as 'an attempt to bully and disrupt a younger competitor'. A neutral third party tasked with comparing the source code from both companies found that there were no similarities and no intellectual property theft had occurred.

With automakers still battling to overcome the challenges of full self-driving (FSD), the LiDAR-equipped Xpeng P5 takes us a step closer allowing for automatic off-ramp and on-ramp entry, and more precise maneuverability when a driver cuts in front of the vehicle - a particular challenge in countries like China where driver education and poorly maintained roads can cause unnecessary accidents.

The P5 uses two LiDAR sensors in conjunction with 32 perception sensors, 12 high-definition cameras, five millimeter-wave radars, and a dozen ultrasonic sensors to handle autonomous city driving and self-parking functions. The P5 also comes with a built-in fridge, a configurable interior, and additional options can be added to transform the vehicle into a sleeping compartment or private movie theatre.

Xpeng is taking orders for the P5 now with delivery promised in October. The company is hoping to produce up to 15,000 units every month. For now, the Xpeng P5 is only available to domestic customers but the company is currently exporting two other models to Norway and plans to make inroads in Europe in the future.

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Comments (16)

  • That actually looks good,i wonder it's as technologically advanced as a Tesla.

      3 months ago
    • I mean can it really home in a strike a stopped fire truck? Can it ignore large immobile objects in the lane? Can it scatter flaming batteries in a spiral pattern?

        3 months ago
  • Don't buy Chinese. They are evil evil evil!!!

      3 months ago
  • Question. Will LiSAR allow the P5 to be a true driverless car, or just a high level of driver assistance?

      3 months ago
    • Unfortunately, it's a high level of driver assistance at this stage..

      I was in a conference a few months back with some of the people working on FSD and one of the speakers (I think from Intel or Nvidia) said that we're further away from the...

      Read more
        3 months ago
    • I don’t know if it’s “unfortunately” because I’m not ready to travel in a true driverless car. I’ll wait a while. Thanks for replying.

        3 months ago
  • Pretty funny tesla's calling something "expensive and unnecessary."

      3 months ago
  • "and more precise maneuverability when a driver cuts in front of the vehicle - a particular challenge in countries like China where driver education and poorly maintained roads can cause unnecessary accidents."

    You never driven in the UK then.

      3 months ago