In a pre-recorded message to participants at the World Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Shanghai, Tesla’s executive director, Elon Musk, boasted that the company has practically discovered self-driving. He stated that the company is “very close” to having a fully autonomous vehicle, without a driver. However, his words generated several reactions that said the company is far from having systems that provide level 5 autonomous driving.
Musk, as always, was vague in his words, left some nuances, but he did not say if he will increase innovative technology in his cars to the highest level of automation.
According Bloomberg, Musk said the company solved many of the fundamental challenges associated with building a self-driving tier 5 vehicle:
I am confident that we will have the basic functionality of L5 autonomous driving this year. There are no fundamental challenges.
Of course, these statements may be just Elon being Elon. This is because today’s Tesla vehicles are far from being able to drive themselves without driver participation.
The packages Autopilot and Full-Self Driving (Autopilot and full autonomous driving ability) are level 2 in the automation classification. As described, they are partially automated technologies to support the driver. In other words, drivers must always be present, have their hands on the wheel, and remain aware of their environment.
Will Musk mean more than what he said?
This last statement by Musk is very vague, perhaps intentional. There is no mention of how much Tesla cars will evolve until they are considered level 5. Furthermore, there is nothing to say if this functionality will be implemented in all cars through an update via OTA, the company’s usual strategy.
It is also true that having the fundamentals “uncovered” (as shown in the video below) is very different from saying that a vehicle can be deployed for safe operation.
However, suppose for a second that the Tesla has a fully automated tier 5 vehicle. The next obstacle would be to overcome the regulations and get the green light to put the car into production, which will not be easy – if at all.
Tesla’s approach to so-called self-driving technology is increasingly being scrutinized and scrutinized!
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The company’s partially autonomous autopilot system has been at the center of a series of investigations after a series of accidents in which the technology was being used. In a case of high visibility, the driver was reminded to put his hands on the steering wheel again and again before the car ended up in a fatal collision.
Most of the time, these collisions occurred because drivers were misusing technology, because they think it is more capable than it really is.
Tesla autopilot can mislead people
Engineers in other industries, such as aerospace, have been critical of the Tesla’s lack of LiDAR, and regularly cite the numerous accidents related to autopilot as proof that their technology is below what it should be. Its camera-based system regularly fights to differentiate objects that cross the vehicle’s path, and when the sun is on the horizon.
Advertising and competition regulators around the world have contested his name, Autopilot, saying it is dangerously misleading. Academics have also criticized this practice of over-selling autonomous technologies, calling the practice “Autonowashing;” like autonomous Greenwashing (a kind of bleaching the truth).
One thing is certain, Tesla cars cannot, in their current state, drive without assistance from the human driver. There are plenty of accident videos on the Internet that demonstrate how dangerous Tesla, left to their own devices, are dangerous. Even Tesla is constantly pointing out that its technology is a driver aid.
So, in the short term, some argue, Musk’s statement is careless and only serves to further confuse customers. This phrase can be irresponsible, leading customers to think that their vehicles are more capable than they really are. There are cases where drivers have abused technology with fatal consequences.
Although Musk can boast that Tesla discovered autonomous driving, we have yet to see any evidence that it should be trusted to have done so. However, we know what you’re capable of … and half a word can mean a lot!