Even if you follow a little bit of news coming from Elon Musk, you are most probably already aware of the fact that he is a man filled with an ambition to change the face of transport, be it interplanetary (as seen by his work in his other company SpaceX) or transport on Earth, evident through the virtue of his works in Tesla and his concept of Hyperloop.
The Humble Beginnings
Tesla Motors initially started off as an automotive start-up, whose core aim was to make electric cars a compelling purchase over gasoline cars. Now ever since Tesla began selling the Model S, that purpose seems to be taking shape, which is exactly why Elon Musk decided to take charge towards a bold new step, and that was autonomous on-road travel. To accomplish this goal, Tesla released “Autopilot” to customers in the form of a beta two years back in September 2014. While it was acclaimed for providing industry leading driving aids, it did receive setbacks and criticisms in the form of a fatal crash that took place earlier this year, and with regulatory issues in different regions, like the German Authorities going as far as to order Tesla to stop using the term “Autopilot” in defining the feature. Elon Musk in reply to the criticism said,
“If you discourage autonomous tech, you’re killing people.”
Also Read: Another Tesla Crash Blamed On Autopilot!
Tesla Announcing Full Autonomy in an Event on 19th October 2016
Now though after all those difficulties, Tesla bounced back yesterday in an event during which, they showed the world what the Autopilot 2.0 is all about. As I mentioned before, the Autopilot 1.0, which released in 2014, was a beta and was only capable of aiding the driver. Autopilot 2.0, however, as Elon Musk proclaims, is capable of “Full Autonomy.” Which essentially means that it could take you from point A to B using the most optimal route without requiring any human input and as a cherry on top, you won’t even be expected to park as it will drop you off and find a “suitable” parking spot. The reason why I used the term “suitable” is the system’s ability to recognize signs which mean that a Tesla, equipped with Autopilot 2.0, would know whether or not, a parking spot is marked with a sign like “no parking.” CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk sheds some light over this trait of the new Autopilot in the following tweet:
Tesla claims that the new Autopilot is at least twice as safe as an average human driver. For added convenience, in addition to having the ability to conduct hands-free short and long distance trips, Teslas will also be able to travel to the nearest supercharger, to replenish their batteries automatically. Moreover, inside a tightly-knit couple of sentences, Tesla has confirmed the possibility of a Tesla network for autonomous ride sharing, which was initially hinted by Elon Musk during the announcement of Tesla Model S & X P100D. Tesla is proposing a next year release of such a network in which, your Tesla would be able to earn for you by driving itself when not in use, this is again something interesting for us to see in the near future.
8 Cameras + Ultrasonic Sensors + Radar + Powerful Processing = Full Autonomy
Now let’s go behind the scenes to see the hardware additions made by Tesla, which paved way for full autonomy. First up is twice the number of active cameras as were used previously from four to eight. These eight cameras give the car, a full 360-degree view of its surrounding with cameras dedicated to low distance, and long distance views, allowing them to operate in both, urban and suburban traffic. Along with that, these cameras help cancel out car’s blind spots in addition to making tight maneuvers and parking a breeze when on Autopilot.
A radar, which can penetrate through weather elements like fog, rain and snow also comes on board the Autopilot 2.0 along with relatively small range ultrasonic sensors, 12 of them are there to keep the track of objects in close proximity to the car.
The data from all cameras and sensors is fed to the on-board computer, which now possesses over 40 times the power of its predecessor and has a new name “Tesla Vision.” Tesla explains it in the following words:
“This system provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously, and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses.”
Availability and Restrictions
Elon Musk during Tesla’s event, yesterday, said that all the vehicles currently in production, will come installed with all hardware required (as mentioned previously) to attain full autonomy. Tesla insists on the fact that Model 3, which will hit roads hopefully by late 2017, will also come equipped with Autopilot 2.0. That is particularly interesting, when we keep in view, the sub $35000 price point where Model 3 will fall in.
While all of this sounds good, there is a catch, as mentioned by Musk in an interview with Walt Mossberg, in which, he expressed that even if Tesla can make driverless cars, the matters of jurisdiction could lead to a significant amount of delays. And that is still true, after Tesla has been able to accomplish this feat, here’s how the company itself describes this dilemma:
“Please note that Self-Driving functionality is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction. It is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality described above will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval.”
You can see the Tesla Autopilot 2.0 in action in the following video:
Are you excited to see autonomous vehicles taking shape or have some other opinions to share? Comment down below to let us know or discuss in PakWheels Tesla Forum.