Tesla Inc broadcast a web presentation on Monday to update investors about its self-driving strategy as Chief Executive Elon Musk tries to show that the electric auto maker's massive investment in the sector will pay off. He said it was improbable but true that Tesla had designed the industry's best self-driving chip, saying Tesla's was dedicated for autonomous driving, while others, like Nvidia Corp, developed chips that could do other things as well. It does not have lidar, a point that experts in autonomy have cited as a major flaw in Tesla's technology.
It was not the first time this model has had problems with fire, with a Model-S bursting into flames while driving in Los Angeles in June. "The technology does not exist to do what he is claiming".
More than 60 companies in the USA alone are developing autonomous vehicles. "We still think removing the safety driver will take many years (if not decades) to achieve at high scale", he wrote.
Musk hosted Tesla's Autonomy Day with investors at its Palo Alto, California headquarters on Monday. Tesla had previously said that its vehicles would be fully self-driving by 2018 but that target was missed.
All Teslas being produced today have the new chip and the company is about halfway through the design process for the next generation chip, which would be about three times better than the current system, Musk said.
"A year from now we'll have over a million cars with full self-driving, software, everything", Musk predicted. Now the self-driving computer costs $5,000, but the price rises to $7,000 if it's installed after delivery.
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Mr Musk said he expected the scheme to operate on a model similar to that of Uber or Airbnb.
While the original reason behind investing in the development of full self-driving technology by Tesla has always been to reduce cognitive demand for drivers, the EV maker has now also confirmed it drives a second goal - a fleet of self-driving electric "robo-taxis" that it wants to have operational by 2020.
The network allows vehicles to recognize images, determine what objects are and figure out how to deal with them.
That's different from the self-driving systems being built by almost every other company in the industry, including Google spinoff Waymo, General Motors' Cruise Automation, and Ford-affiliated Argo AI.
"Vehicles that don't have Lidar, that don't have advanced radar, that haven't captured a 3-D map are not self-driving vehicles", Ken Washington, Ford's chief technical officer, said during a recent interview with Recode.
"They're expensive sensors that are unnecessary", the brash CEO told investors. "It's like having a whole bunch of appendixes".