Byton unveils second prototype self-driving electric car
Byton, a self-described "intelligent electric vehicle maker" based in California, has unveiled the K-Byte. This self-driving sedan will be shown at the upcoming CES Asia as a premium sedan concept built on the Byton EV platform. Its main feature is integrated, retractable sensors.
Byton has partnered with Aurora, an OEM autonomous driving technology firm. The K-Byte will be able to drive itself in well-defined parameters with Level 4 autonomy, which is the last step towards a fully autonomous vehicle that can operate without humans at all. This is considered to be "near-term" achievable in today's automotive market and Byton hopes to capitalize on that, with a fleet of prototype vehicles on the road by the end of 2020.
The Byton K-Byte follows on the Byton Concept (now called the M-Byte), shown in January of this year. The two concepts share a common chassis and engineering design, with the K-Byte being a sedan and the M-Byte being a crossover. The core of the two vehicles will be identical.
That core features a 71 kWh battery or an option for a 95 kWh battery pack, with fast charging allowing up to 80 percent charge in about half an hour. Powering the vehicles are 200 kW motors which can be configured as single-axle drive (front- or rear-wheel) or doubled up as all-wheel drive. Byton did not give specifics on the K-Byte sedan, but expected range for the M-Byte with those batteries is 249 miles (400 km) and 323 miles (520 km) per charge, depending on battery, so the sedan would likely get slightly better.
Unique to the Byton K-Byte, though, are the sensor arrays. These are integrated into the vehicle using equipment designed by Aurora, including lidar sensors in a 360-degree view, cameras, etc. The side mirrors of the K-Byte are small cameras that project to screens inside the car. Below those are little canisters which contain the side-view LiDAR systems (which Byton calls LiGuards). These canisters and cameras flip around to "retract" into the car when not in use.
On top of the K-Byte is a bow-shaped module called the LiBow, which contains forward- and rear-looking LiDAR and cameras. This bow-like strip is made to integrate with the car's roofline while allowing a full view fore and aft.
Byton also announced its naming strategy. The term "Byton" comes from "Bytes on Wheels," with the vehicle names all carrying the "Byte" name as well. More about the K-Byte will be unveiled on its physical debut in Asia.
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