Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer XPeng recently put their autonomous driving technology to the test with a journey between Guangzhou to Beijing, a 3,675 km journey. This distance is close to the experience of driving coast to coast in Australia, which would be a 4,000km drive.
Today the group of P7 cars in the autonomous showcase reached Nanjing, which represents 1,360km, or around 62% of the journey. This road trip has provided Xpeng with enough data about the cars being under their highway driver assist tech, Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP).
Xpeng says that so far, human drivers have had to intervene between 0.65 to 1.07 times per 100km. On the surface, that definitely sounds like a great outcome for drivers, with the tech enabling the driver to relax a lot more, knowing the car will be centered in the lane lines, adapt to the speed of the car ahead as part of perform automatic lane changes.
Without seeing a timelapse of the whole journey, it is hard to validate what these disengagements were for. Clearly Xpeng drivers are disengaging to take over to go charge the car as well, so I expect this is not included in the data averages above.
If the upper end of the intervention ratio is maintained (1.07 times per 100km), this would mean drivers are having to take control 36.75 times during the journey. When we look at things in that light, we do have a long way to go before cars are ready to drive themselves.
Highway driving is impressive compared to what most automotive brands are offering, but clearly they expectation of what’s possible is changing rapidly. Tesla’s Full Self Driving Beta videos from Tesla owners show the car navigating city streets.