's own smart driving team will instead focus more on the development of the AD Max system that comes with its highest priced models, according to local media.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI) has brought in local self-driving startup QCraft as a smart driving system supplier to assist it in developing ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) features for the Pro versions of its cars, local media outlet 36kr said in a report today.

Some of QCraft's employees have now started working at Li Auto's office to conduct joint development with the company, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Li Auto's current models on sale include the Li L7, Li L8, and Li L9, with both the Li L7 and Li L8 offered in Air, Pro, and Max variants, while the Li L9 is only offered in Pro and Max variants.

For the same model, the Air version is the least expensive, the Max version is the most expensive and the Pro version sits in the middle. All Max versions come with a LiDAR, while neither the Pro nor Air versions come with the part.

The company's ADAS system consists of the AD Max and the AD Pro, with the former being fitted to all Max variants and the latter to the Pro as well as the Air variants.

The AD Max is powered by 2 Nvidia Orin X chips with a total computing power of 508 Tops. The sensing sensors of the system include 1 AT128 LiDAR supplied by Hesai Technology, 6 8MP cameras and 5 2MP cameras.

The AD Pro is powered by a Journey 5 chip with 128 Tops supplied by local chip maker Horizon Robotics, and features an 8-megapixel front-view camera, five 2-megapixel peripheral-view cameras, and four 2-megapixel surround-view cameras.

AD Max supports full-scene intelligent driving, covering both highways and urban roads. And the AD Pro currently caps its capabilities at pilot driving on highways.

QCraft will be responsible for the migration and optimization of Li Auto's AD Max 3.0 algorithms to the AD Pro platform, according to 36kr today.

"[QCraft's job] is not to develop a new set of algorithms from scratch, but to allow a large amount of data and code to inherit from AD Max," the report said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Li Auto founder, chairman, and CEO Li Xiang himself is keeping a close eye on the project, personally setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the QCraft team, according to the report.

Li Auto's own smart driving team, on the other hand, will focus more on technological breakthroughs in the in-house developed AD Max system, the report said.

To fulfill its expected sales of over 800,000 in 2024, Li Auto needs to become a first-tier player in the smart driving space, the report noted.

To accelerate its progress, Li Auto has adopted this strategy, where its internal team is focusing on the development of the high-end version of the smart driving system and will hand over the base version to an external vendor, the report said.

Currently, Li Auto has about 900 smart driving developers, which will reach about 2,000 by the end of next year and more than 2,500 by 2025, the report noted.

Founded in 2019 by industry veterans who worked at self-driving pioneers such as Waymo, , and Uber, QCraft's backers include Chinese tech giant ByteDance as well as venture capitalists including YF Capital and Genesis Capital.

Horizon Robotics was founded in 2015, and it released its Journey 2 chip in 2019, the first automotive-grade AI chip in China. Its Journey 3 chip was previously used by Li Auto in the 2021 Li ONE.

On July 29, 2021, Horizon Robotics launched the Journey 5 chip.

On December 12, 2022, QCraft announced the launch of its NOA (Navigate on Autopilot) assisted driving solution based on the Journey 5 chip, making it the first provider to offer a chip-based NOA capability covering both highway and urban areas.

The solution leverages QCraft's software algorithms and thecomputing power of the Journey 5 chip to support point-to-point assisted driving in a wide range of road conditions including urban multi-scenarios, highways, and expressways, the company said at the time.

Li Auto says Li Mega gets over 10,000 pre-orders in less than 2 hours after pre-sale begins