Elon Musk dropped some hints about his plan to rollout “Enhanced Autopilot” on all the cars built at Tesla Motors Inc . Autopilot 2.0 will give the cars Level 5 self-driving skills and silence critics who claim that Autopilot is not worthy of the name. A couple of Tweets suggests that Musk is now ready to release its improved software for self-driving tech.
You’ll remember that Musk started outfitting his cars with hardware for full autonomous driving in October – in fact, the mass-market Model 3 will debut with the standard autopilot hardware boasting 8 cameras. It also has 360-degree visibility with more than 250 meters of range and 12 ultrasonic sensors. However, the hardware can’t yet unleash the full power of full autonomy because the software ‘brains” that will control the hardware is not yet ready for the market.
Autopilot 2 tests to begin today
On Sunday, Elon Musk revealed that a 1000-car test fleet for Tesla Motors Inc Autopilot 2.0 will start today. The tweet reads, “New rev for Autopilot HW2 rolling out Mon to first 1000 & the rest of fleet in shadow mode. Also improves HW1 and enables Ludicrous+.” The 1000-car test fleet will test how well Autopilot 2.0 is able to use the improved hardware to provide a safe, smooth, and human-free driving experience.
Musk also hints that the first 1000 cars in Tesla’s fleet will start running the new update in “shadow” mode. Under shadow mode, the human driver will be in control of the car but the mode allows Autopilot to simulate how it would have acted if it were in control of the car. The shadow model will also help Tesla collect data on the safety and reliability of the improved autopilot in different driving conditions without actually running the risk of seeing something go wrong in real life.
Elon Musk has previously said that using shadow mode could provide info on how Autopilot gives “a material improvement in the accident rate over manually driven cars… I think at that point regulators would be comfortable approving it.”Musk also suggests that the positive outcome of the shadow mode tests would see HW2 Autopilot running in active move for all other cars in Tesla’s fleet by the end of the week.
Nonetheless, it would still take a whole longer for the improved Autopilot to have complete Autosteer with highway speeds. Musk notes that you’ll get to enjoy highway speeds with longitudinal controls but that “lateral (steering) control will cap at 35 mph for a bit longer. Will raise after full fleet data rolls in.”
Rivals are one step behind Tesla Motors
Tesla Motor’s lead in the self-driving car market might not go on for much longer as rivals step up their games to catch up with Elon Musk.
On Friday, Jordan Golson of The Verge wrote about how German firm, Mercedes Benz is coming from behind with Drive Pilot to steal the show from Elon Musk’s Autopilot. “I tested it (Drive Pilot) out this week on a twisting desert road in Nevada and, you might be surprised to learn, it’s better than Elon’s” Jordan wrote.
Of course, Musk still maintains a lead because everyday users are already using its Autopilot on real life roads. Most of its rivals on the other hand are still in the testing phase and none of the other carmakers has a tech that can compete with the Autopilot HW2.