The NIO EP9's Self-Driving System Took Just 4 Months to Develop

While Uber, Waymo, Tesla and many others putz around major cities in street-legal self-driving cars, the NIO EP9 all-electric supercar is focused on one thing only: going really, really fast, no driver necessary. NIO announced on Monday that its EP9 autonomous car set a new record for the fastest ever self-driving lap at the Circuit of the Americas race track in Austin, Texas. The software and systems behind the car were also developed at breakneck speed, with engineers at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters completing the project in just four months.

“Our goal is to be the best next-generation car company, by delivering autonomous vehicles with amazing experiences for people all over the world,” Padmasree Warrior, CEO of NIO United States, said in a statement. We look forward to sharing our vision for the car of the future in Austin, Texas at SXSW in March.”

On February 23, the car recorded a time of two minutes 40.33 seconds autonomously around the Austin track, reaching speeds of up to 160 miles per hour. The car also set a new record for a production car with a driver, clocking in at two minutes, 11.30 seconds and reaching top speeds of 170 miles per hour.

The EP9 at Circuit of the Americas.
The EP9 at Circuit of the Americas.

It’s not the first time the EP9 has set a record. In October, the car achieved a time of seven minutes 5.12 seconds on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschliefe in Germany:

The machine has the specs to back up these impressive feats. Using four inboard motors and four gearboxes, the EP9 can provide one megawatt of power (equivalent to 1,342 brake horsepower) to achieve acceleration times of 0-124 mph in 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 194 miles per hour. The car is can recharge in just 45 minutes, but if that’s too slow, drivers can also swap out the battery, which has a range of 265 miles.

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The news comes on the same day that Roborace announced the world’s first self-driving electric racecar, capable of reaching speeds of around 200 miles per hour. The Robocar will be used in special Formula E ePrix competitions, where competitors have to create the best autonomous car software to run on the provided car. If NIO’s experience shows anything, it’s that these teams can pull off some great accomplishments in a short space of time.

NIO also faces competition at the high-end from the Rimac Concept One. Just last month, the electric car annihilated a Bugatti Veyron, thanks to its combination of not one, but four one-megawatt motors. That’s enough to power about 164 homes for a year, but why would you want to do that when you can race really fast around a track?

NIO is set to launch its autonomous EP9 from March 10 through March 12 at Coppertank Event Center in Austin, Texas. Company CEO Warrior will give a keynote speech at the SXSW conference on the 11th at 11 a.m.

Photos via NIO
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