Huawei seems to be taking the road less driven in entering the electric car market. Unlike Baidu which headed straight for electric vehicle manufacturing, Huawei is adopting a more indirect route by installing its hardware and software into other people’s cars.
According to a WeChat post published on Monday, BAIC BluePark New Energy Technology, one of China’s biggest manufacturers of all-electric vehicles, will showcase its first model powered by Huawei’s automotive radar technology at Auto Shanghai in April.
The new electric car, named the Arcfox αS HBT, will be equipped with Huawei’s newly launched automotive-grade lidar sensor which is capable of detecting objects in the car’s surroundings to a radius of more than 200 meters, according to the post.
Automotive lidar uses spinning lasers to conduct 360-degree scans of a vehicle’s environment in real time by bouncing laser pulses off surrounding objects and measuring the return time of the reflected light to calculate distances and shapes. The operating principles are similar to the principles of radar using radio waves.
Huawei pins high hopes on lidar which it says can deliver higher accuracy in positioning and object detection, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk turns up his nose at the technology, labelling its use “a fool’s errand” due to cost concerns. However, Wang Jun, who leads Huawei’s smart auto division, has disclosed plans to cut the cost of the lidar system for self-driving cars to as low as $200 a vehicle, compared with a popular lidar product made by industry leader Velodyne, which sells for $4,000.
The lidar sensor is just a part of the Arcfox αS HBT’s sensing system which is also made up of six millimeter-wave radars, 13 ultrasonic radars and 12 cameras. Meanwhile, a Huawei-developed chip, which features computing power of 352 trillion operations per second, will also power the car, enabling it to reach Level-3 autonomy.
Recently, Huawei once again denied media reports of plans to make electric cars under its own brand and talks with automakers including Changan Automobile and BAIC BluePark over contract manufacturing. While Huawei has been developing an array of technologies for smart cars for years including in-car software systems and 5G communications hardware, Huawei has repeatedly said that its ambitions stop at components.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (firstname.lastname@example.org)