You Won’t Believe Which Autonomous Car is the Fastest in the World
The bar has been set, at least until another self-driving car takes its placeby Kirby Garlitos, on
Five years ago, the thought of seeing autonomous cars on the road seemed like a far-fetched reality. These days, autonomous cars are touted as the future of the auto industry, and one car that prides itself on being able to drive by itself has set the performance benchmark for all the rest of the autonomous driving world to challenge. The Nio EP9 may not be a household name yet, but it recently made a strong case for itself at the Circuit of the Americas when it lapped the 3.4-mile circuit in 2:40.33, doing so while achieving a top speed of 160 mph and setting the record for the fastest self-driving car around the track.
Just as important (maybe even more so) is the 2:11.30 lap time it posted with a driver behind the wheel of the car with a top speed of 170 mph. All the same, the lap time is the fastest lap time around the famed circuit for a production car. The EP9’s achievement is a big milestone in it of itself, especially when you consider that the Aston Martin Vantage V8 racer that won a pole position in the GT-class car during the 2016 Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas managed to post its fastest lap of 2:04.61. Let it be said then: the EP9’s lap time with a driver behind the wheel is only seven seconds off the pace of track’s GT-class lap record. That’s impressive in any language.
Granted, the EP9’s record lap time might still ring hollow for some skeptics who believe that more autonomous cars should post their own lap times around COTA to “validate” Nio’s fastest lap around the track claims. But that’s neither Nio’s nor the EP9’s issue. All it can control is the lap time it posts; if somebody wants to put the EP9’s lap time in its proper place, that’s on them to make it happen.
Either way, there’s no denying that the Nio EP9 is a potent piece of autonomous driving machinery. The startup company says that its pride and joy is powered by four electric motors that combine to produce a staggering 1,341 horsepower. That allows the car to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds and 0 to 124 mph in 7.1 seconds. Top speed is reportedly begged at 195 mph to go with a 265-mile range.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
This is a big leap forward for autonomous driving technology
Say what you will about those who promote autonomous driving technology, but you can’t deny that there is some significant progress being made in the push towards making self-driving cars a real thing in the auto industry. The accomplishments achieved by Nio and its EP9 self-driving electric hypercar paint a clear picture of that regardless of whether the records themselves hold up in the future.
But this is also isn’t about setting records or showing how far Nio has come as a start-up manufacturer, although to be fair, the company deserves massive credit for getting this far without experiencing all the ills that befall new companies that put ambition above everything else.
More important than all of that is the effect these record-setting laps have on the legitimacy of electrification and autonomous driving technology. Let’s face it; a lot of people are still skeptical about the tech, and they have good reasons for that. It’s new. It’s unproven. It’s still subject to a lot of testing, not to mention stringent regulations. All fair points.
But what Nio accomplished with the EP9 tells us that there’s been enough progress in these fields that a car that nobody believed could exist a few years ago can now go about set lap records in one of the best racing circuits in the U.S. Ultimately, Nio accomplished something that’s bigger than the records themselves to the point that it doesn’t matter if the numbers stand or not. What they’ll remember is that an electric autonomous driving vehicle set the record when nobody thought it could and it did so on its own merits.
For now, though, Nio’s next big event is at the Coppertank Event Center in Austin, Texas where it’s scheduled to unveil the EP9 electric autonomous driving hypercar from March 10 to 12. If you’re in the area, make sure you circle those dates on the calendar and check the car out.
Who knows, one of you might be swayed enough to make a deposit on the car, even if Nio itself hasn’t said how much the car is going to cost. Previous speculation suggests that it could fetch close to $1 million, which would be right around what a lot of people expect it to go for, even without knowing that we could be looking at a potentially record-breaking hypercar.