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AutoX autonomous vehicle navigates through China’s urban villages

AutoX, a developer of Level 4 fully autonomous RoboTaxis founded by e-commerce giant Alibaba, has released a new video this week showcasing how its fully driverless RoboTaxis handle the challenging rush hour conditions of China’s “urban villages” in what is described as the “ultimate autonomous driving challenge”.

Unique to China, urban villages are ultra high-density residential neighborhoods in major cities, including Shenzhen and Guangzhou, that are typically surrounded by skyscrapers, transportation infrastructure, and other modern urban developments.

The public roads in urban villages are extremely busy, chaotic and overcrowded, especially in the early evening.

In the video, an AutoX fully driverless RoboTaxi deftly and cautiously navigates its way around crowds of pedestrians and pets, bikers, scooters, and roadside food stalls during evening rush hour in a Shenzhen urban village.

Encountering a fully driverless car without a driver or passengers for the first time, pedestrians can be seen gathering even closer to the RoboTaxi to film videos and snap photos.

In one tense scene, the RoboTaxi maneuvers through an extremely narrow lane that is only wide enough for one vehicle while also facing an oncoming human-driven vehicle.

Aware of its closer proximity to the end of the narrow lane than the human-driven vehicle, the RoboTaxi firmly but safely nudges forward, signaling to the human driver that it should yield to the RoboTaxi and allow it to pass first.

A similar situation occurs again, when the RoboTaxi detects an oncoming car in a narrow lane. This time, however, both cars are at opposite ends of the lane. The RoboTaxi evaluates the scenario and makes the decision to back up twice to make room for the other car, until the two vehicles can work their way around each other.

The RoboTaxi in this video is equipped with the AutoX Gen5 system, which was released on July 6 in Shanghai.

During the press conference for the Gen5 official launch, the journalist and editor-in-chief Dong Zhang from Leiphone, broadcast a livestream video of himself riding in a Gen5-equipped RoboTaxi to capture the first time a fully driverless RoboTaxi navigated through an urban village.

The AutoX Gen5 system has 50 sensors in total, as well as a vehicle control unit of 2200 TOPS computing power.

There are 28 cameras capturing a total of 220 million pixels per second, six high-resolution LiDAR offering 15 million points per second, and 4D RADAR with 0.9-degree resolution encompassing a 360-degree view around the vehicle.

Using cameras and LiDAR fusion perception blind spot modules, the Gen5 system covers the entire RoboTaxi body with zero blind spots.

With its cutting-edge technology, Gen5 offers the world’s best sensor resolution and computing capabilities for Level 4 autonomous driving systems.

Gen5 enables AutoX RoboTaxis to drive safely on China’s complex urban streets by detecting even barely perceptible delivery scooters behind vehicles from several hundreds of meters away.

The system’s higher resolution sensing capability also enables RoboTaxis to drive at higher speeds safely, extending the Operational Design Domain of AutoX’s driverless RoboTaxi fleet.

The AutoX Gen5 system is built with Electrical/Electronic Architecture that satisfies global functional safety standards.

The Gen5 production process is established with strict supplier management and quality control on a modular and vehicle level. Before going on the dedicated assembly line, components go through rigorous automotive grade testing.

After integration with the Gen5 system, each RoboTaxi also undergoes automotive grade testing, including vibration testing, waterproof testing, extensive road testing, and more.

In January, AutoX launched China’s first fully driverless RoboTaxi service to offer rides to the public without accompanying safety drivers.

After six full months of operation with a perfect safety record, the company is moving forward with the production of its Gen5 system to expand its RoboTaxi fleet.

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