drone pilot industryXPeng Unveils Supercar Helicopter Concept, More At Annual Tech Day

October 24, 2021by helo-10

In today’s China, October 24th has become known as programmers day. Start-up electric vehicle automaker Xpeng has latched onto this date for its annual Tech Days, and this year, for the third Xpeng Tech Day, the company is announcing a slew of updates, including improved smart driver assist technology, better supercharging technology that will shorten charging times for the brand’s EVs in China and a surprising flying car.

Xpeng’s plans to take to the sky are due to HT Aero, the automaker’s affiliated Urban Air Mobility (UAM) company. HT Aero has already tested its flying drone/car prototypes on over 15,000 flights, XPeng said, but the next-generation flying car design unveiled today shows just how ambitious the company is. Supposed to roll out in 2024, this new road-capable EV features a rotor mechanism that folds into the car, so you can either speed down the road or helicopter your way out of traffic. Whether or not this ever becomes a reality, James Bond would certainly approve.

Back down on earth, Xpeng’s limited self-driving technology – it does not offer full autonomous driving – is called XPilot, and the 3.0 version of this software has been around since early 2021. It offers Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP) on highways and limited Valet Parking Assist (VPA) memory parking functions. XPeng said today that Xpilot 3.0 has already been used to drive almost 7.5 million miles on China’s highways, and accounted for 60 percent of the highway driving mileage that XPeng’s drivers put on their cars in the third quarter of 2021.

In the first half of 2022, XPeng will release Xpilot 3.5, which will expand NGP’s capabilities so that it can be used on city streets as well as the highway. For this update, XPeng is introducing a new sensor suite that uses “the industry’s first mass-produced quadruple perception fusion solution, with dual-camera-vision coverage, complemented by ultrasonic, millimeter-wave radar and LiDAR sensors.” All of that will allow the car’s visual perception network to get upgraded from 2D detection to 3D, the company said. Xpilot 3.5 also represents the world’s first LiDAR perception system in a mass production model.

Coming in the first half of 2023, then, will be Xpilot 4.0, which Xpeng claims will “be first to deliver full-scenario assisted smart driving experiences from vehicle switch-on to parking.” That’s an ambitious promise, but Xpeng says the system will require a “comprehensive hardware upgrade,” that will significantly increase the system’s perception capability.

As for XPeng’s supercharging tech advance, the automaker said today that it will introduce its next-generation “X-Power” superchargers that are able to add up to 124 miles of range to an EV in just 5 minutes. When fully rolled out, Xpeng’s supercharger stations will be able to charge an average of 30 vehicles at once, with a 600A peak charging current. Today, XPeng has 439 branded supercharging stations across China.

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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