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Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Autopilot Learns, Business Gets in the Way

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Autopilot

Tesla Motors Inc is more than just a maker of life-sized cars that run on batteries. The firm released an Autopilot update for its Model S to stamp its spot as a trailblazer in the auto space. Tesla Motors no doubt makes great cars, but the firm has two major problems that have nothing to do with what it has on the road.

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Autopilot

Tesla Motors’ new Autopilot feature is teaching itself to drive better. The firm didn’t just release autopilot, it empowered its Autopilot with the AI needed to become better the longer it stays on the road. When Autopilot was first released about two weeks ago, drivers still had to keep their hands on the wheels and intervene when the car was veering off course. Now, Model S drivers have observed that the car seems to have lesser need for human control.

Tesla Motors autopilot gets smarter

Electrek’s Fred Lambert noted that the AI uses those moments when humans had to take control of the car as “teachable moments” to improve its driving skills. A number of Model S drivers have reported the smartness of Tesla’s autopilot on a Tesla Motors Club forum.

One driver noted “the first day when I was in the right lane, as I approached exit ramps, it would dive for the exit ramp. I quickly learned to apply torque to the wheel to hold the car on the interstate until I had passed the exit.

Each day the system seems to have less tendency to follow the exit ramps as I pass. The last two days it only gave a momentary wiggle and moved over maybe six inches towards the exit ramp then it recovered and moved on down the road.

This morning it gave only a very slight hesitation, so little that I did not have to correct it at all. I find it remarkable that it is improving this rapidly.”

The most interesting part is that a “driving lesson” learnt by one Model S doesn’t improve the driving skills of that car alone; rather, the driving lesson is uploaded to Tesla’s “fleet learning network“. It appears that Tesla Motors has one big brain that from which the AI that powers all the Model S on the road pick their skills. In the words, of CEO Elon Musk, “When one car learns something, all learn.”

Tesla still has two major problems

Tesla Chart

In the last year, the shares of Tesla Motors have lost a massive 14.4% in its share price while its percent of float short has increased by 22.56% as shown in the chart above. Hence, it appears that Tesla has been playing on the fringes of bear territory in the last one year.

Despite the amazing thing the firm has pulled off with the roll out of the Autopilot system, Tesla motors is still in trouble.

Tesla Motors really does make great cars and the problem with its stock has more to do with its business model than with what it has on the road. Business Insider reports that two major problems are plaguing Tesla Motors .

The first problem is the cost of building and maintaining its network of Superchargers. The second problem is that the firm is facing serious headwind in choosing the direct sales method over the traditional dealership models.

Those problems are sure to come up in the midst of the firm’s earnings call. After the market closes on Tuesday, we’ll hear how the firm did during the three months through September, and analysts will get a chance to question Elon Musk.

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Victor Alagbe is a seasoned business and finance writer with a specialty in writing about how to invest for the long-term in healthcare, pharmacology, energy and tech stocks. His long-term focus is on stocks that provide a nice mix of growth and income. For the short term, he passionately writes about trading stock options for the excitement and leverage that stock options offer.

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