ELON MUSK INTERVIEW ON AUTOPILOT AND FULL SELF DRIVING
>> Musk believes autonomous cars are worth 5 to 10X ones that aren’t.
>> Elon estimates that Tesla’s fleet captures 99% of all consumer-driven autonomous miles, far more data than other manufacturer.
>> Musk said because all new Teslas now ship with Full Self Driving hardware, they may appreciate in value with software updates.
>> By next year, Elon believes that having a human driver in addition to Autopilot may be less safe than Autopilot by itself.
>> Driver Monitoring System will soon become obsolete since Autopilot technology is advancing so rapidly, according to Elon Musk.
Elon Musk sat down with Lex Fridman, an autonomous vehicle researcher from MIT to chat about Autopilot and the future of Full Self-Driving. It’s a fascinating glimpse of where Autopilot is headed.
To begin, Lex starts out by saying that his interview is meant to be completely unbiased and that he does not have any interest in Tesla whatsoever. He was asked by Tesla whether he wanted to interview Elon, and he accepted. He notes upfront that while he has great respect for Elon Musk and the work Tesla is doing there are some points where he disagrees with Elon, in particular whether Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) are needed and/or are beneficial. Lex believes they are useful whereas Elon believes Autopilot safety is advancing so quickly it won’t be needed soon (more below).
Why Did Tesla Build Autopilot?
Elon observed there were two big trends in the auto industry: electrification and autonomy. It quickly became clear to Elon that any car that didn’t have autonomy in the future would be about as “useful as a horse” today. If Tesla didn’t participate in the autonomy revolution, they would have an inferior product and be left behind. To Elon, an autonomous car is ‘arguably’ worth 5 to 10 times more than one that isn’t.
When asked why Tesla decided to create the Autopilot display that is shown to drivers on the screen (where the vehicle is shown in the middle along with recognized lanes, cars and other objects), Elon said that it provides a ‘health check on how the system perceives the environment around it. It provides the user confidence or warns them if the environment isn’t correctly perceived.
How Does Tesla Choose Where to Focus?
Elon was asked how the team determines how to split efforts between data collection, algorithm updates and hardware.
For data collection, Elon said that Tesla has an enormous advantage over any other consumer car manufacturer. Tesla automatically gathers vast amounts of data from the over 400,000 Tesla vehicles on the road that have the full sensor suite installed (meaning 360 cameras, radar, ultrasonics). By comparison, Elon believes that only there are probably no more than 5,000 competitive consumer vehicles on the road with a comparable sensor suite. That means that, as of now, Tesla has access to 99% of the data (in terms of consumer vehicle driving miles).