In the next four to 10 years, autonomous assisted driving—electronic systems that help the driver park and turn—will account for 50 to 90 hours out of every 100 hours behind the wheel.
That’s the prediction of He Xiaopeng, chairman and CEO of Xpeng—whose angel investors include Xiaomi founder Lei Jun—speaking at Fortune’s Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou, China on Friday.
Before launching intelligent electric vehicle maker Xpeng Motors five years ago, He Xiaopeng made his name co-creating China’s most popular mobile web browser, UC Browser, and selling it to tech giant Alibaba Group for nearly $4 billion.
Now, he predicts that it’s not fully autonomous driving, but assisted driving, that will disrupt the automobile industry first.
“We believe we are making progress every day, every week, and every month,” on the path to autonomous driving, He says, but Xpeng and the autonomous driving sector as a whole is not there yet.
“I think [autonomous vehicles] should have a very high degree of security to run on the road. In pilot testing right now, it’s about 80% secure—that’s not enough.” He says.
Progress depends on continued training of the vehicle’s driving abilities through machine learning, which will require “hundreds of kilometers of data.”
He guesses that autonomous assisted driving will be “on most roads in China” in one to two years, and believes that 5G, the next generation cellular network technology with breakneck speeds and comprehensive coverage, will be applied in the auto industry earlier than other industries due to its centrality to driverless vehicles and even remote virtual driving.
He has some more colorful predictions too: “I think the shape of cars will also change in the future. […] We are very excited because we are going to create a completely new car. The future car could look like an egg.”
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