XPeng Motors Now Licensed to Test Autopilot in California

On Sept. 11, Dr. Gu Junli, vice president of Xpeng Motors, an electric car startup in China, announced in a keynote speech that the company has obtained a California Autopilot Test Drive Permit, allowing the company to legally test its autopilot technologies on U.S. soil.

The keynote speech titled “The Evolution of AI Vehicles and Autopilot”, delivered at the Chief Tech Director Conference Summit (CTDC Summit), also details the automaker’s research and development progress of autopilot technology in China.

“We’ve encountered lots of bottlenecks on the front of researching internationalization of automated driving,” says Dr. Gu. Without solid data of driving conditions in China, the company had a difficult time customizing AI functions and capabilities to accommodate traffic conditions in China.

The electric car maker is said to be looking to mass produce highly intelligent AI automobiles with six-dimensional sensing capabilities. “Our vehicles will be able to self-perceive, detect objects, perform high-precision positioning, make near-future predictions (traffic-wise), interact, and make logical deductions to enhance the safety and innovation of autonomous driving scenarios in China”, she said in the speech.

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The CTDC Summit is one of the most sought after and forward-looking Internet summits in China, bringing together top technology leaders within the industry and giving them a chance to demonstrate the latest development in technology. Themed “Enjoy the Future with AI”, this year’s summit also included other automobile topics such as the transformation from functional vehicles to smart vehicles.

The firm also announced at the CTDC Summit that the company will begin the delivery of G3, its new electric SUV model, before the year-end. Xpeng Motors has so far received 6,000 pre-orders of the G3, and has promised to produce at least 1,000 units by the end of this year. The high-profile vehicle is said to be equipped with leading autopilot hardware and more than 20 intelligent sensor devices, which allow it to adapt to localized automatic driving and provide automatic parking functions covering high frequency living scenes.

Xpeng Motors is among a group of EV startups that have sprung up in recent years thanks to the Chinese government’s aid in research on new energy vehicles. The Alibaba-backed startup is currently valued at $3.6 billion after its most recent funding round, though it hasn’t yet delivered a single vehicle. Other EV startups valued over $1 billion include WM Motor and BYTON.

The company have indicated that it hopes to secure a total funding of 30 billion yuan ($4.36 billion) by the end of 2019, according to its vice-president Brian Gu, a former JP Morgan banker.