Xpeng is often called the Chinese challenger to Tesla for its efforts to bring advanced driving capabilities to its electric vehicles. It’s now getting a step closer to its American counterpart as it gets rid of high-definition mapping in its XNGP assisted driving feature, its equivalent to Tesla FSD.
Tesla FSD famously does not rely on HD maps, which contain many details such as lane lines, curbs, traffic signs and more. The use of this pre-computed information, combined with sensors like radars and cameras, can help autonomous driving cars to understand the road better and thus drive more safely.
Tesla not only opted out of HD maps but also made the controversial move to also eliminate lidars, the powerful light detection and ranging method that’s a staple sensing technology in the development of self-driving cars.
Xpeng still uses lidars, but it’s taken on a technical challenge by rolling out map-free XNGP in 20 Chinese cities soon, the company announced at its tech day on Wednesday. Being map-free means Xpeng’s urban assisted driving feature can drive anywhere, unlimited by where maps have been made or road condition updates. By the end of this year, the map-free XNGP will be available in 50 Chinese cities.
It’s an interesting time to witness Xpeng’s tech development progress as the company transitions into a new era after losing its former head of autonomous driving to Nvidia.
Other autonomous vehicle teams in China are also racing to remove the expensive HD maps. Deeproute, which has shifted its focus from developing robotaxis to assisted driving for mass-produced passenger cars, unveiled its map-free autonomous driving solution in March.