Tesla Autonomy Day 2019 | Tesla's Autonomous Driving Plans

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Informally dubbed Autonomy Day, Elon Musk did what Elon Musk does and said a lot of things—this time about the company’s aggressive and definitely controversial expansion plans for autonomous technology. And lot of the things Musk said were not so much facts about Tesla’s cars, but predictions of how they will be used in the near future.

What’s interesting here is these forecasts, by and large, are far out of line with industry standard time frames and even technological practices.

Given his predilection for over-promising and under-delivering, here are some of the most significant ones we may want to come back to in the near future and see how they played out.

‘Level 5′ Autonomy In A Million Teslas By 2020
The first half hour or so of the Autonomy Day presentation was dedicated to Tesla’s in-house chipset development, which the company claims delivers best-in-class performance for self-driving cars. The goal is Level 5—the highest form of full autonomy—by 2020. Which is (checks watch) next year. There are no Level 5 vehicles currently for sale.

In short, Tesla developed a chip specifically for self-driving cars, rather than adapting powerful chipsets by major manufacturers that consume more power for less computational output. That sounds smart!

But then things got weird when Musk started predicting what this will mean for Tesla in the near term. Mainly, fully self-driving cars by next year:

By the middle of next year, we’ll have over a million Tesla cars on the road with full self-driving hardware, feature complete, at a reliability level that we would consider that no one needs to pay attention.

Tesla has a long history of using confusing terms when referring to its driver assist technology, including the very name of the software package “Full Self-Driving,” when it is not full self-driving.

Moreover, Musk claims they can do this without the use of LiDAR, the laser-based technology that creates real-time 3D mapping around the car and is used by most every other company persuing self-driving, even though it adds considerable hardware costs.

Because Tesla thinks the company can achieve truly autonomous driving without LiDAR, it means they believe they can ship this capability via software update rather than having to build cars differently. It’s quite a claim that, in short, very few other people or companies in the industry buy.

Further, the timeline of rolling this out by next year is similarly out of whack with industry predictions. Most other companies, including industry leader Waymo, are revising their time scales backwards, not forwards, for a full autonomous vehicle revolution, if it ever comes to pass.

Instead, they’re looking at limited rollouts in specific geographic areas favorable to full autonomy like Phoenix. Of course, Tesla is not proposing any geofencing for their cars.

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