15.2 C
Delhi
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Tesla’s China rival Xpeng to use lidar sensors from DJI affiliate Livox – TechieZone

Must read

The battle is heating up between Tesla and its Chinese challenger Xpeng as the latter makes clearer its stance on the future of autonomous driving. Over the weekend, Xpeng, which counts Xiaomi and Alibaba among its investors, announced that it will be using lidar sensors from Livox, a startup with closes ties to the Chinese drone giant DJI.

The choice of remote sensing technology lidar and a Chinese supplier reflects the complexities of the U.S.-China tech war. Tesla has accused Xpeng of alleged intellectual property theft, a claim that the Chinese electric vehicle maker repeatedly denied. In a turn that surprises some industry experts, Xpeng said it will be adding lidar to its mass-produced autonomous cars in 2021, a strategy that would differentiate it from Tesla. Having seen Xpeng’s announcement, Elon Musk scoffed that Xpeng lacks Tesla’s technology.

Musk has long dismissed the use of lidar in autonomous driving, calling the technology “expensive sensors that are unnecessary.” Instead, Tesla relies on neural network training and camera-enabled visual recognition for its autonomous vehicles. Some Chinese players agree with Musk’s vision. Daimler-backed Momenta, for instance, is betting on less expensive millimeter-wave radars and high-definition cameras.

Xpeng already utilizes several sources to collect data: camera, millimeter-wave radar, ultrasonic, among other sensors. The addition of lidar, it says, will “provide a greater level of safety redundancy,” which allows a self-driving car to continue operating even when the primary system component fails, “by allowing more accurate imaging of the road situation.” Lidar will also “enhance target detection, measurement accuracy, performance in low ambient light and other challenging perception conditions,” the company claims.

The choice of Livox is also intriguing. There are mature foreign options such as Velodyne and Luminar, but Xpeng’s pick is expected given the Chinese government’s push for technological autonomy in key industries. In China, Livox faces some strong opponents like Hesai, which is backed by Bosch and Chinese search giant Baidu, and Robosense, which has fundings from state-backed carmakers BAIC and SAIC.

Livox itself was founded as an “independent company” in 2016 through DJI’s internal incubation program, according to the startup’s own description. One of its selling points has been to lower the price point of lidar, which the company claims is made possible by its unique optoelectronic scanning method.

The foray into autonomous driving is fitting as DJI has been pivoting to B2B businesses like agriculture drones. But the giant’s relationship with the lidar startup remains mystic, at least from the public viewpoint. Livox’s company boilerplate states it is “backed by DJI’s deep expertise in sensor innovation and hardware manufacturing” and its products are sold through DJI’s official retail store. Other than that, it hasn’t addressed whether DJI holds any equity in it or has controlling power over its management.

As it turns out, Livox is “just a team within DJI, which was later positioned as a separate company” while enjoying access to DJI resources including manufacturing and supply chain “just like another product brand,” a person with knowledge of the matter told TechCrunch.

One possible motive for Livox’s deliberate distancing from DJI is to avoid potential scrutiny from the U.S. government, which sees lidar as a key area in the tech war with China, the person said. DJI was recently added to the U.S. government’s trade blacklist, which has sanctioned other Chinese tech titans like Huawei and SenseTime from accessing key components from U.S. suppliers. Frank Wang, founder and chief executive of DJI, is also believed to want less public attention.

Livox and DJI couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest article

Amazon Prime launches mobile-only subscription in India – TechieZone

Amazon is doubling down on one of the biggest strengths of Prime Video streaming service: Aggressive pricing. The e-commerce giant on Wednesday launched Prime Video...

GM’s new logo shows, it’s serious about an electric future – TechieZone

General Motors has changed its logo, refreshed its website and kicked off a new “Everybody In” marketing campaign as part of a broader effort...

WeLink raises $185M to deliver high-bandwidth wireless internet to the home using 5G – TechieZone

Cable or fiber. For the vast majority of American homes, there’s no choice of how customers get their internet access. If you’re lucky to...

Kyte raises $9 million to deliver rental cars to your doorstep – TechieZone

More than two years ago, Ludwig Schoenack, Nikolaus Volk and Francesco Wiedemann looked at the bevy of scooter services, ride-hailing apps, public transit and...

OpenAI’s DALL-E creates plausible images of literally anything you ask it to – TechieZone

OpenAI’s latest strange yet fascinating creation is DALL-E, which by way of hasty summary might be called “GPT-3 for images.” It creates illustrations, photos,...