China’s NIO just countered Tesla with autonomous lane changes

Its fairly well established that Tesla are leading the market on autonomous driving with Autopilot and FSD. It’s important to keep an eye out globally on this transition to driverless vehicles, as innovation can happen anywhere.

Today, China-based NIO has announced an update to NIO Pilot. Several new features see the system grow significantly in sophistication.

The NIO Pilot update adds 7 features including Highway Pilot, Traffic Jam Pilot, Auto Lane Changing (ALC) and more. The update marks the transformation of NIO Pilot into a comprehensive, level 2 autonomous driving system, offering advanced driving assistance.

While Tesla is on a trajectory to level 4/5 of autonomous vehicles with their 3rd generation hardware platform, Autopilot and Full Self Driving today still represent level 2. This means the race is on with America and China as lead contenders to reach full autonomy first.

As a key strategic focus, NIO will continue to develop core technologies, with autonomous driving algorithms, foundational software, ADAS and other technologies being developed jointly by NIO teams in the United States and China. 

‘‘As a smart electric vehicle brand, the research and development of autonomous driving technologies is absolutely vital to NIO. It is only through progressive research and development and mastering core technologies, that we can more quickly respond to user feedback and quicken the pace of product iteration. In this way, we can offer users an experience that exceeds their expectations,”

NIO’s Vice President of Autonomous Driving, Jamie Carlson stated.

NIO also announced an update to their in-car OS to NIO OS 2.0, and unveiled a new user experience (UX) vehicle interaction and user interface (UI) design.

Based upon user feedback, NIO OS 2.0 gets an overhaul to optimise for a better user experience. It’s clear from the UI, they’ve done a nice job, looking especially clean on that large center touchscreen display.

There are now more screen gestures so most operations can be completed through gestures alone, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road. The NIO smart operating system now integrates rich third-party content such as Baidu Maps, QQ Music in addition to NIO Radio, NIO’s online audio community.

NIO rely on Intel-owned Mobileye EyeQ4 technology for now referred to as ‘eyes off’, but are already looking forward to the next generation EyeQ5 where it should achieve full ‘Mind off’ autonomy. This system is scheduled to be a 7nm FinFET chip, down from the current 28nm FD-SOI. It’ll also up the power use from 3W to 10W, but gain in performance from 2.4Tflops/sec to 24Tflops/s accommodating for the millions of calculations required for fully autonomous driving. This is scheduled for arrival in 2020.

Tesla, you have a lead now, but China is catching up and quick.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


  1. It’s not China but Mobileye (US/Israel) that’s chasing – some say leading – Tesla in autonomous driving. Their chips and technology will be sold to whoever will buy.

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