Self-driving Teslas might be a thing in 2020

Jo Lloyd
April 24, 2019

The company's ambitious Autopilot system, which clocked in over a billion miles late past year, is still essentially a driver-assistance system, leading Tesla to update its web page recently to include a disclaimer stating, "The future use of these features without supervision is dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience".

Musk has touted the electric auto maker's self-driving capabilities over the years, highlighting its semi-autonomous Autopilot system.

Musk has been predicting fully self-driving cars are "only a couple of years away" for some time now.

Musk trashed Lidar as a "fool's errand" and "frigging stupid" in a putdown of companies such as Google spin-off Waymo and General Motors' Cruise Automation that are including the light beam sensors in their systems.

Musk noted that any customer would be able to add or remove their vehicle from the Tesla taxi network - a model he compared to a combination of Uber and AirBnB.

Despite Tesla's claims, its vehicles are not deploying the standard definition of "level 4" autonomy that would handle all functions with a human on standby or "level 5" autonomy that would need no human. "I think the most profound thing", he said in a recent interview, "is that if you buy a Tesla today, I believe you are buying an appreciating asset, not a depreciating asset". Mr Musk claimed the reason might sound improbable but Tesla has designed "the best chip in the world... by a huge margin". The EV maker also touted its new Full Self-Driving Chip which "is capable of processing up to 2300 frames per second"-an improvement of 21 times over previous generation hardware".

Tesla plans to introduce an application wherein Tesla owners can opt-in on generating revenue by renting out their cars for the on-demand taxi market when they are not in personal use.

While Nvidia might say that this doesn't compare to its billions of simulated hours, Musk says that simulated testing can not replicate real-world dilemmas.

Tesla CEO Musk said the company expects to get necessary approvals by 2020.

At a presentation for investors about the company's autonomous technology Mr Musk unveiled a new section of the company's app which he said Tesla owners would be able to use to make money by adding their auto to a fleet of taxis, which would operate without drivers.

Musk last addressed the Tesla-horse comparison via Twitter on April 14.

In one, neither the driver nor a Tesla Model S operating on the company's Autopilot driver-assist system spotted a tractor-trailer crossing in front of it on a Florida, highway in 2016. The system has automatic steering and cruise control but requires driver attention at the wheel.

"It's all hype", said Steven Shladover, a retired research engineer at the University of California-Berkeley who specializes in autonomous driving.

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