AV tech, which is the computer software and hardware that will allow vehicles to actually drive themselves, requires the acquisition and accurate processing of massive amounts of data. Tesla is using information collected from every car produced since October 2016 — the date when cars equipped with the first generation Autopilot suite of sensors went into production. Waymo is relying more on computer simulations. It has racked up nearly 6 billion simulated miles so far, according to The Verge.

The Autopilot system collects data continuously in what the company calls “shadow mode.” Whether Autopilot is engaged or not, the cars’ computers are constantly comparing what they would do if given the chance and what drivers actually do. It has collected about 5 billion miles of driving data by now, data that is shared with software engineers back at Tesla HQ. As Tesla sells more vehicles — Model 3s, Model Ys, and Tesla Semis — the rate of data acquisition will increase accordingly.

So which is better — data from actual driving or data created by computer simulations? The answer seems obvious. Formula One race car drivers spend hours honing their skills in multi-million dollar simulators, but that doesn’t always translate into performance on the track. As Helmuth von Moltke, a 19th century Prussian general, so cogently observed, “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.”

Read more: https://cleantechnica.com/