Photo by JustCARS/YouTube
Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Electric carmaker Xpeng has announced the rollout of new auto-pilot navigation software in a challenge to American automaker Tesla and its current position as the world leader in electric vehicles.
The new piloting system called City NGP, or Navigation Guided Pilot, allows vehicles to operate with only minimal help from the driver, and the launch was seen as a bold statement by the Chinese start-up.
The new feature, designed specifically for urban settings, opens the door to a "full range of driving tasks" that will revolutionize driving in the city, the company said in a statement, according to CNBC.
City NGP gives a car the capability to change lanes on its own, navigate around obstacles, and keep safe distances from other cars on the road.
Xpeng engineers were motivated to build a navigation system for cities that would help drivers get around everyday scenarios such as pedestrians, traffic, potholes and accident scenes.
The feature is currently being tested in some of the company's P5 electric sedans that were rolled out last year near the company's headquarters in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
The magic of the new navigation system is found in light detection technology and lasers that produce a 3D representation of the environment that the car uses to steer itself.
Xpeng first announced City NGP last year with the release of the Xpilot 3.5 navigation system, which gave drivers a little more freedom but still required their full attention to the wheel.
Xpeng's new self-driving feature would change that, and its release comes hot on the heels of Tesla's Full Self-Driving Beta system, which has shown some technical glitches in recent testing among U.S. drivers.
Charles Zhang, the company's vice president, said the new City NGP software brings the driving experience "one step closer to full autonomy."
The race toward fully autonomous driving has become intensely competitive and is one of the most pivotal aspects pushing electric vehicle sales.
Xpeng is the same company that introduced an electric flying vehicle at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition two years ago.