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Ian Wrightclimbs behind the wheel of his little red sports car. He turns the key in the "ignition," but no motor rumbles. He taps the accelerator, and in the 45¬�meters or so between his parking space and the gated entrance to the parking lot, he accelerates to 75 kilometers per hour, pulling almost 1 G and pinning his passenger into the hard plastic seat beside him. He then stops inches from the iron gate.

This is what happens when an EE, happy with a career in optical communications, stumbles into the electric car industry�Äîif that EE used to be a race car driver. Wright has designed one of the fastest electric cars ever built, a car that on a racetrack leaves Porsches and Ferraris in the dust, but one that is designed for the streets of Silicon Valley, where it makes even a short drive an adventure.

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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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