China’s Xpeng Rolls Out Urban Self-Driving Software

Chinese carmaker Xpeng begins roll-out of self-driving software for cities in direct competition to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system

Chinese smart car maker Xpeng has introduced a self-driving system for city streets that is comparable to Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving (FSD) software, the first time a Chinese automaker has launched such a system for urban environments.

Xpeng introduced the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) as a pilot, making it available to some of its P5 sedans via over-the-air updates over the weekend.

Xpeng is considered one of Tesla’s main competitors in China, along with Shanghai’s Nio and Beijing-based Li Auto.

He Xiaopeng, co-founder and chief executive of the Guangzhou-based firm, said the City Navigation Guided Pilot (City NGP) system was part of a “strategic roadmap” extending it from the highways and parking lots previously included to “much more complex city driving environments”.

Xpeng's G9 SUV. Image credit: Xpeng
Xpeng’s G9 SUV. Image credit: Xpeng

Human oversight

In March of 2021 a fleet of Xpeng P7 mid-sized cars completed a weeklong 3,675-kilometre autonomous driving test from Guangzhou to Beijing, with the frequency of human intervention 0.7 times per 100 km.

Xpeng’s City NGP technology promises similar capabilities to Tesla’s FSD, such as cruise control, automatic lane changes, navigating around stationary vehicles or obstacles, detecting and responding to traffic lights, taking left or right turns, navigating through intersections and avoiding obstructions such as roadworks, pedestrians and cyclists.

The systems offered by Tesla, Xpeng and others still require human oversight but are intended to eventually be fully autonomous – although whether this will ever be practical has been disputed by some industry watchers, as well as some within the self-driving industry itself.

Xpeng's G9 SUV. Image credit: Xpeng
Xpeng’s G9 SUV. Image credit: Xpeng


Xpeng said City NGP would require a seven-day familiarisation period and 100 km of driving before drivers would be allowed to access its funcitons on all available roads.

The feature is part of Xpilot 3.5, the latest version of Xpeng’s ADAS software, which is also planned to be included in the flagship G9 sport-utility vehicle to be introduced later this month.

Xpeng said Xpilot is the first full-stack, self-developed autonomous driving technology to be mass-produced in China. Tesla’s FSD has not been approved for use in China.

The US is currently moving to restrict the shipment of advanced artificial intelligence chips to China, but Xpeng has said it has years of reserves of the processors.