Tesla To Build Self-Driving Tech Into All Cars

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Tesla will build self-driving technology into cars which will run in “shadow mode” to gather data on when it might have avoided or caused accidents if it was in command

Tesla will build self-driving technology into all the electric cars it makes, running it in “shadow” mode to gather data on whether it is safer than having people in control.

“Every car that Tesla produces from here on out will have the full autonomy capability,” said Tesla co-founder and chief executive Elon Musk.

A new onboard computer with 40 times the processing power of the previous generation will run a new “neural net” for vision, sonar and radar sensors, he said.

During a conference call with reporters, Musk referred to the hardware as “basically a super-computer in a car,” different from auto-pilot technology to date.

It will be up to regulators and the public as to when the self-driving capabilities will actually be put to use on roads, according to Musk.

Meanwhile, the system will run in “shadow mode” to gather data regarding when it might have avoided or caused accidents if it was in command.

Musk hoped that Tesla would one day be able to impress regulators with a statistically significant amount of data showing the autonomous driving technology would avoid crashes and save lives.

“Then we are at a point where we can allow it to take action,” Musk said of amassing data showing the system’s merits.

Upgrading existing cars with the autonomous driving hardware was not practical, according to Tesla.

“It would be like giving someone a spinal cord transplant; not advisable,” Musk said on the call.

Millions of miles

Tesla planned to calibrate the system using feedback from millions of miles of real-world driving before enabling the new hardware.

In the meantime, Teslas with the first-generation Autopilot technology will lack some standard safety features such as automatic breaking and collision warnings.

As features are validated, they will be enabled with over-the-air software updated.

The United States last month unveiled a sweeping new regulatory framework for the unexpectedly rapid rise of self-driving automobile technology, just days after Uber broke ground with its first driverless taxis.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the federal government intends to set the safety standards for cars of the future where no human is involved in the driving, even while individual states still regulate cars with humans behind the wheel.

Announcing a 15-point safety assessment for driverless car systems, Foxx stressed that the government wants to work with developers—which include most large automakers as well as tech giants such as Uber and Alphabet (Google)—without stifling their efforts.

A Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets boasts founding members including Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber and Volvo.

The coalition supports guidelines that standardize self-driving regulations across the country, avoiding confusion and lost industry momentum.

 

Tesla has an Autopilot feature in its Model S and Model X vehicles, allowing them to automatically change lanes and keep up with traffic.

But it suffered a setback in May when a man was killed driving a Tesla Model S while using the Autopilot function. A preliminary US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report into the incident said the driver had been speeding moments before he collided with a lorry.

BBC issued that In its last set of financial results, the firm said it had missed production targets, saw sales below expectations and reported its thirteenth consecutive quarterly loss.

In April, Tesla unveiled plans for its Model 3 vehicle, its cheapest to date, due for release next year. It has been reported that so far 400,000 have been pre-ordered. That vehicle will now also include the new hardware.

The basic model will start at $35,000 (£28,500) and have a range of at least 215 miles (346km) per charge. Analysts say the price and range of the five-seater should make the vehicle appeal to new types of customers and could boost interest in other electric vehicles.

The firm faces competition from other similarly priced electric cars that will become available first, including General Motors’ Chevy Bolt and BYD’s Qin EV300.