Tesla Announces Fully Self-driving Fleet of Electric Cars


Tesla Motors announced Wednesday that its electric cars will be the first in the nation to all be fitted with the hardware they need to drive themselves.

CEO Elon Musk announced Wednesday that the automaker’s Model S, X and forthcoming Model 3 sedan will start being outfitted with “the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.”

That constitutes full Level 5 autonomy, which doesn’t require any driver involvement. That’s the ultimate goal for a range of automakers and tech companies, including Google, Ford and Volvo, which have vowed to produce such self-driving vehicles by 2021.

Musk did not say exactly when such technology would be consumer-ready, although he did say regulatory hurdles would have to be vaulted first.

“It’s not up to us, it’s up to the regulators, and we hope things don’t become balkanized and different in every state,” he said. “It’s a question of what the public and regulators think is appropriate. The system will always be operating in ‘shadow mode,’ though, so we can gather a lot of sophisticated data to show where software could have acted or not acted.”

This next-generation of Tesla’s Autopilot, as it calls the partial self-driving feature it has in the cars now, will have eight surround cameras that provide 360 degree visibility at up to 250 meters of range. There are also 12 updated ultrasonic sensors that can detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the existing Autopilot system.

“It’s all Tesla Vision software, we’re not using any third party software for the vision procession,” Musk said on a conference call with reporters. “It’s our neural net.”

Musk was upset with the media about focusing on the few accidents that may have been related to Autopilot. “If you’re dissuading people from autonomous driving, you’re killing people,” he said, referring to the million-plus people who die world-wide die in cars due to human error.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Marco della Cava

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