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Tesla’s Autopilot Cannot Ever Be True Self-Driving, Says Waymo

Tesla’s Autopilot Cannot Ever Be True Self-Driving, Says Waymo
The United States based Tesla is considered to be an anomaly in the buzzing world of autonomous driving. This is because the company has been trying to develop everything needed for self-driving cars are being developed in-house starting from hardware to chips and processors to artificial intelligence capabilities. The company has also attempted to distinguish itself from the crowd of companies trying to develop self-driving cars by using real-time cameras instead of the pre-mapping LiDARs for guiding vehicles movement.
And according to the companies in the “mainstream” self-driving space, this strategy of Tesla is not likely to work.
“It is a misconception that you can simply develop a driver-assistance system further until one day you can magically jump to a fully autonomous driving system,” John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, the self-driving startup spun off from Google’s X lab, said in a recent interview with German business magazine Manager Magazin.
“In terms of robustness and accuracy, for example, our sensors are orders of magnitude better than what we see on the road from other manufacturers,” he added. Even though he acknowledged that Tesla “is developing a really good driver assistance system,” Krafcik said Waymo “manufactures a completely autonomous driving system…For us, Tesla is not a competitor at all.”
The self-driving system developed by Waymo us been based on the same technology used by auto giants like GM and Ford in their respective driverless programs even though the Google’s subsidiary does not itself manufactures cars. Those systems makes used of LiDAR (radar using light instead of radio waves) sensors for scanning and mapping an area beforehand to allow a driver to select a route to travel and input it into the system of a self-driving car to that the vehicle can reach the destination by itself.
In contrast, autonomous cars that are being developed by Tesla have a system which is known as Autopilot FSD (Full Self-Driving) would hit the car first and then decide on what to do at any point in time taking decisions using machine learning algorithms based on a 360-degree view of road conditions that is captured by eight in-car cameras.
There is not only better technology in possession of Tesla but also much more financial resources compared to Waymo to become the leader of the self-driving arena, twitted Tesla CEO Elon Musk while reacting to Krafcik’s harsh comments on FSD.
“To my surprise, Tesla has better AI hardware and software than Waymo (money),” he twitted.
A small group of Tesla owners in the US were offered a beta version of the Autopilot the company last October. Sharing his own experience with the software, Musk tweeted just this past weekend that it there was no requirement for human interventions at all while using the software as it safely drove him to “an unfamiliar location in Los Angeles and back”.
“I’m extremely confident that Level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen, and I think will happen very quickly,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the virtual World AI Conference 2020 in July. “There are many small problems…[but] I think there are no fundamental challenges remaining for Level 5 autonomy.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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