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Can Lithium Deliver the Goods?

Laptop battery is bulked up for service in hybrids

4 min read

4 November 2004 -- Ten new Federal Express hybrid-electric vans that took to the New York City road in October are carrying much more than the usual surprise packages and parcels. The vans are powered partly by lithium-ion batteries -- a scaled-up version of the batteries in cameras and laptops, not the nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries that have been the technology of choice in the pioneering hybrid cars sold by Toyota, Honda, and Ford. The Fed Ex trail is a test, one of several, of whether lithium ion batteries could displace NiMH in the hybrid vehicles of the future.

By growing consensus among specialists in the field, lithium batteries are markedly superior in some respects to the standard nickel-metal hydride alternative. ”You come up with a battery that's smaller and lighter,” says Michael Saft, U.S. marketing director for French battery giant Saft, in Bagnolet, France. ”We think that, long term, lithium is going to be the standard for the industry.”

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Chinese Joint Venture Will Begin Mass-Producing an Autonomous Electric Car

With the Robo-01, Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely aim for a fully self-driving car

4 min read
A black car sits against a white backdrop decorated with Chinese writing. The car’s doors are open, like a butterfly’s wings. Two charging stations are on the car’s left; two men stand on the right.

The Robo-01 autonomous electric car shows off its butterfly doors at a reveal to the media in Beijing, in June 2022.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters/Alamy

In October, a startup called Jidu Automotive, backed by Chinese AI giant Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely, officially released an autonomous electric car, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition. In 2023, the car will go on sale.

At roughly US $55,000, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition is a limited edition, cobranded with China’s Lunar Exploration Project. It has two lidars, a 5-millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 12 high-definition cameras. It is the first vehicle to offer on-board, AI-assisted voice recognition, with voice response speeds within 700 milliseconds, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip.

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