Chinese electric vehicle firm NIO and internet giant Tencent signed a strategic cooperation agreement in Shenzhen on November 28. Under the deal, the two sides will carry out in-depth cooperation in the fields of autonomous driving cloud technology, intelligent driving maps and digital ecology.
NIO will work with Tencent to build an integrated hybrid cloud infrastructure that can support EB-level automated driving data storage, support the access efficiency of 1 million QPS with trillions of files, significantly improving the R&D efficiency of automated driving.
In terms of mapping, based on the capabilities of intelligent driving maps and other capabilities provided by Tencent, NIO will create an innovative experience with seamless integration of standard and high-precision navigation, exploring a scenario-based intelligent service network based on location services and internet ecology.
In December 2020, William Li, the founder of NIO, said that intelligent EVs are the future of the automobile industry, and the core of its intelligence is automated driving. However, among the many NIO models launched at present, the intelligent driving system is still the NIO Pilot of the previous generation, and it would be a stretch to call it a complete automated driving system.
NIO‘s Navigate on Pilot (NOP) technology is a driver-assistance system, which combines the functions of vehicle navigation and NIO Pilot automatic assisted driving, allowing vehicles to cruise automatically according to the path planned by high-precision map navigation under specific circumstances. With the OTA update of NIO version 2.7. 0 in October 2020, it has similar functions to Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot (NOA).
When the NOP function was released at the end of 2020, Zhang Jianyong, then the head of NIO‘s Unmanned System Engineering Department, posted an article in NIO‘s user community, stressing that NOP cannot be equated with automated driving. Like Tesla’s Pilot, NOP is still an auxiliary driving function, and it may exit at any time if it cannot meet the working conditions. When using it, drivers still need to pay attention to traffic conditions and road environment at all times.
Some market analysts said that the software of NIO‘s automated driving technology needs to be improved urgently, specifically in the field of high-precision maps. This cooperation with Tencent can help make up for its shortcomings in this aspect.
Both recently established and traditional carmakers in China are now working hard to develop automated driving technology. More and more traditional car companies have begun to establish strategic cooperation with autonomous driving companies, set up specialized subsidiaries and R&D departments and laboratories related to intelligent driving. On the other hand, new carmaking firms such as XPeng, Leapmotor and Li Auto are beginning to focus on self-research technology.
For leading car companies, the core competence related to autonomous driving represents the key investment direction. The industry generally predicts that before the next automobile industry reform comes, the whole industry will still move closer to high concentration and resource integration.