China’s Alibaba teams up with Tesla rival Xpeng for driverless cars

XPeng remains focused on boosting sales of its electric cars. But it has focused on building future businesses in flying cars and robotics.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and electric vehicle startup Xpeng are opening a data center to train software for driverless cars, the two companies announced on Tuesday.

Autonomous driving systems require processing huge amounts of data to train algorithms.

Xpeng claims the new data center will reduce training time for its core autonomous driving model from seven days to within an hour.

The Guangzhou-headquartered company will use technology from Alibaba’s cloud division for its computing needs. The data center, named Fuyao, will be located in the Inner Mongolia region in northern China.

Alibaba, an investor in Xpeng, has been trying to boost its cloud computing division amid a slowdown in its core commerce business. The move also underscores how China’s tech giants are trying to get into the fast-growing electric vehicle space.

Tencent, for example, is trying to position itself as a leading technology company for foreign automakers to use for various automotive technology-related services as they enter the Chinese market.

For Xpeng, the move marks its ambitions to move forward in China’s fiercely competitive electric vehicle market and seek to challenge giants Tesla and Warren Buffett-backed BYD. China’s electric vehicle startups from Nio to Xpeng see autonomous driving capabilities as a way to achieve this.

Xpeng features advanced driver assistance System or ADAS called XPILOT installed on some of its vehicles. Users who opt for this feature can get some autonomous features like auto lane change.

Last year, Xpeng launched the City NGP, which stands for Navigation Guided Pilot. The system allows Xpeng’s cars to change lanes, accelerate or decelerate, or overtake cars and enter and exit highways. Previously, the system was only designed for motorways, but now also for cities.

Xpeng has tried to position itself more like a tech company than an automaker, investing in areas like robotics and flying passenger drones.

Chinese regulators have been fairly encouraging autonomous driving technology for the most part. Various cities across the country have allowed domestic driverless car companies to also test and even launch robotaxi services.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/02/chinas-alibaba-teams-up-with-tesla-rival-xpeng-on-driverless-cars-.html China’s Alibaba teams up with Tesla rival Xpeng for driverless cars

Joshua Buckhalter

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