Pininfarina has branched out far beyond its car design roots. The Italian design house has crafted a tractor, a driving simulator, and even Motor1.com's logo. Its latest, which hails from Pininfarina Shanghai, the company's Chinese studio, looks like it could haul a fleet of Pininfarina creations.
It's called the DeepWay Xingtu, and it's a sleek new articulated lorry or semi-truck packed with the latest self-driving technologies and a stunningly futuristic cabin.
Fully autonomous vehicles that can go everywhere are still a dream and will remain one for several years. However, the road to that future will see the technology used in limited fashions, like in the trucking industry. The DeepWay Xingtu demonstrates what's necessary to achieve it, designing the self-driving lorry with 11 onboard cameras, an infrared detector, five millimetre-wave radars, and a LIDAR sensor. According to the company, the lorry can achieve ultra-long-range detection of more than 1 kilometre.
Gallery: DeepWay Xingtu By Pininfarina
DeepWay, a subsidiary of Baidu, uses Baidu's autonomous driving technology for its Highway Intelligence System (HIS) that helps enable "end-to-end autonomous driving," which is a bold claim. Powering the sleek semi is an all-electric powertrain with a bespoke-developed 450-kilowatt-hour battery pack that allows it to travel up to 300 kilometres (186 miles) on a single charge when it's fully loaded with 49 tonnes of cargo. It also has a low 0.35 drag coefficient, which helps with its impressive range. Recharging the big batteries won't be an issue as the lorry has a quick-swap solution that can replace a pack in six minutes.
It's unclear if or when the Xingtu will enter mainstream production, but DeepWay plans to continue R&D and manufacturing articulated lorries with autonomous tech and electrified powertrains. It wants to "promote the commercialisation of L4 autonomous driving technology" in China over the coming years, and focusing on the hauling industry is a great way to explore self-driving tech before it's carrying our kids to school autonomously.