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Formula E Returns With Customized Cars

Electric racing returns next month with new power trains and other improvements

4 min read
Formula E Returns With Customized Cars
Under The Hood: The Amlin Andretti team tested a custom-built power train in August but had to replace the motor later in the month.
Photo: FIA

Formula E cars emerge from their team garages with a suddenness that seems incongruous. Even on their way to practice laps, the drivers turn their cars sharply from the garages and accelerate in apparent anger along the asphalt leading to the circuit. When the second season of the electric formula-racing series begins in late October, in Beijing, they may be able to drive with even more aggression: Unlike during the competition’s first season, each team can now choose its own power train and will also employ a host of smaller technology tricks learned from last year’s racing.

The first season was dominated by close jostling among the drivers: It began in Beijing with a crash that upset the two front-runners. Over the course of the next 10 races, no single team or driver took a definitive lead, and the championship was up in the air until the final lap of the last race. That may have been in part because the 10 teams were all using the same hardware. “This is the last year of such close racing,” predicts Deogracias Vidal, a mechanic for NextEV TCR, the team whose driver, Nelson Piquet Jr., won the first season’s individual champion­ship. “Next year’s motors will make a big difference,” Vidal says.

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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
Purple

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-range radar, 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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