Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA)’s Smart Evolution Gains it a Lead in Roborace

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Model X

Tesla Motors Inc and Alphabet Inc ‘s Google Auto are in a serious race to deliver the perfect self-driving car to the market. Tesla believes that making gradual upgrades to driver-assist systems in cars over time will cause them to evolve into self-driving cars in the future. Google believes that the smartest plan is to build self-driving cars from the scratch from design through development. Both firms seem to have success with their chosen routes and it is somewhat hard to pick a clear winner in the self-driving car race. However, as of today, buyers only have one choice and that’s Tesla.

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Model X

For instance, Tesla’s cars are now outfitted with an autopilot feature that provides the cars with self-driving features. The Internet is awash with videos of drivers trusting their lives to the autopilot and Tesla is even being forced to put some restraints on its use while it perfects the technology.  The latest firmware update for the Model S which was just released this week will not allow drivers to use autopilot in residential areas or on roads without center dividers.  It also limits speed to 5 miles per hour over posted speed limits on restricted roads. Google has a fleet of self-driving cars on Californian and Texas streets and news reports show that the cars are doing a better job than humans at driving on the roads. In fact, there are fears that Google’s self-driving cars might be too safe because they don’t factor in the erratic actions of human drivers – but they will.

Tesla beats Google on self-driving safety reports

Fully autonomous cars are illegal in California but the state is working hard to become one of the first places to build a legal framework for self-driving cars.  One of the things that could speed up the legality of self-driving cars on Californian roads is that the law requires carmakers to report testing incidents to the state’s DMV. Hence, seven firms working on self-driving technology disclose their test results to the DMV. The seven firms are Delphi, Bosch, Nissan, Google, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and Tesla.

The latest testing data on self-driving cars especially as it relates to “disengagement” incidents show that Tesla Motors has a clear lead over rivals. Disengagement incidents refers to events that required an on-board human driver to take manual control of the car to avoid an accident. Tesla reported ZERO disengagement incidents to show that it never needed a human driver to take over from autopilot to prevent a crash.

Google’s test results, covering 424,000 miles over 15 months show that the firm had 341 significant disengagement incidents. Simulations of those incidents show that 13 of them would have ended in a crash if a human did not take over. Google says it doesn’t feel bad about the high level of disengagements. The firm opines, “as we continue to develop our technology, the rate of safety disengagements has fallen even as we drive more autonomous miles on public roads.”

Delphi (based in UK) used its technology to drive an Audi SQ5 from San Francisco to New York in 2015 to establish itself as a key player in the self-driving space. Delphi’s test results covered 14,662 miles and the firm reported 405 disengagements.

From the foregoing, Tesla’s lead in the self-driving space is confirmed because it has the best safety record data. More so, Tesla’s autopilot mode is already in use by the everyday people on public roads in sharp contrast to Google’s self-driving cars that are still in use in controlled test environments.

Tesla and SpaceX had a 90% chance of failure

What do Tesla Motors and SpaceX have in common? The same man, Elon Musk, founded them both. Both Tesla Motors and SpaceX have been able to enjoy free press because of the larger-than-life personality of Elon Musk. However, the fact that Musk is closely associated with both firms means that news about one firm usually affects the other firm. For instance, when SpaceX had a failed rocket launch in 2015, the shares of Tesla took a hit even though both firms operate in wildly different markets.

Musk has recorded decent success in both Tesla and SpaceX despite the fact that both firms are disruptive in what they intend to achieve. Musk says he was never sure of success to begin with, in his words, “At the beginning I thought Tesla and SpaceX maybe had a 10 percent chance at success.” This suggests that the firms would have a 90% chance of failure; yet, today Tesla is beating much bigger firms in the self-driving space.

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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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