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The Fetish, an all-electric sports car unveiled in September by Venturi Automobiles of Monaco at the Paris auto show, relies on a lithium ion battery pack made from the type of cells normally found in portable electronics. Yes, it's surprising, but yes, it's also a trend. Because of their high power density and despite concerns about their flammability, lithium ion batteries are being eyed by makers of hybrid electric vehicles as an alternative to nickel metal hydride. For a rundown on trials in progress and a discussion of the pros and cons, see "Can Lithium Deliver the Goods?" by Peter Fairley at /dec04/3861

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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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