The EV startup Byton is cooperating with Aurora to construct a self-driving, electric SUV for 2020. The vehicle has bold targets, and is planned to have a 300-mile range and all the fancy gadgets. The car will also be driving with Level 4 autonomous vehicle capabilities.
The new Chinese startup Byton, which only recently released its first prototype, claims that the car may seem futuristic, but, while it is ambitious, it is also above all realistic. Including the newest of modern passenger entertainment systems, including a 49-inch screen as well as integration for most modern devices, the aim is not only to provide an all-electric BEV, but to create a “smart car”.
Byton CEO Carsten Breitfeld stated that he believes that electric cars have already proven themselves, and the race is no longer about creating the first electric car. He believes that the next step will be more important, as not only will BEVs be the norm in transport, but that they will have to further differentiate themselves in order to prevail in the market. “A fierce battery pack isn’t enough to stand out in the auto industry anymore”.
The bigger issue however, is to further develop the autonomous driving technology. A truly “smart” car will be able to let the driver fully endorse the role of a passenger; effectively freeing up their attention for things other than driving. The current self-driving car technology is not sufficiently tested or safe to fully guarantee the possibility of having a car like that available on the market by 2020.
That is where the cooperation with Aurora comes in. The current standard of Level 4, meaning that a car can take over driving only under certain conditions, will be replaced by Level 5, which will allow a car complete autonomy under any conditions, circumstances or environments. The software is only designed for the US American market, and any development for the Chinese market, which may be of interest to Aurora, will require some major software retooling. The current contract requires Aurora to deliver a “full stack”; the design and development of a package of sensors, software and data services; everything needed for a car to drive autonomously.