Not everyone loves Tesla Motors Inc . Last week, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne called Tesla EVs “obscene”. This week, it’s a Volvo engineer Trent Victor calling the company “irresponsible” for allowing its Autopilot feature on the road. Tesla Motors Inc boasts the best in-class and most-advanced driver-assist technology system currently on the market with its Autopilot program. Autopilot gives the Model S and Model X cars self-driving abilities on the highways and Tesla hopes that gradual improvements in autopilot will cause it to evolve into a full self-driving car tomorrow.
Volvo seems to be especially irked by the fact that the company sells a semi-autonomous technology with the branding of a fully-autonomous driving system. The firm says, “it’s important for us as a company, our position on autonomous driving, is to keep it quite different so you know when you’re in semi-autonomous and know when you’re in unsupervised autonomous,”
Volvo engineer takes a swipe at Tesla’s autopilot
The Verge reports that Trent Victor, senior technical leader on crash avoidance at Volvo is taking a contrarian look against all the applause that Autopilot has enjoyed. He starts by saying that Autopilot from Tesla provides semi-autonomous driving technology but Tesla has carefully marketed it as a full-autonomous driving technology. In Trent’s words, “It gives you the impression that it’s doing more than it is… [Tesla’s Autopilot] is more of an unsupervised wannabe.”
Trent’s position against Tesla Motors stems from the fact that Tesla’s Autopilot is in Level 3 autonomy and Level 3 autonomy requires the driver to be ready to take over from the computer at a moment’s notice if the computer gets into a driving situation that it can’t handle.
Trent posits that Elon Musk has hyped up autopilot to a point that drivers trust the car enough to do other immersive things such as watching a video while autopilot is at work. Drivers don’t even need to tap the wheels at periodic intervals to show that they are keep tabs on the car. Hence, it is unlikely that they’ll be ready to take over from Autopilot at a moment’s notice and that split second between when Autopilot relinquishes the control of the car and when the driver takes over could be dangerous.
Volvo is building a better autonomous car
Volvo is reportedly working hard to bring a Level 4 autonomous car to the market. Volvo’s Level 4 Drive Me autonomous car will be launched in a public pilot in 2017. Trent opines that Volvo’s self-driving car will be able to drive itself and handle any driving situation without requiring the input of a human driver. Volvo says it wants to show that you can trust its self-driving car; hence, the firm has agreed to take full liability for any of its cars self-driving cars that is involved in an accident.
Tesla Motors has impressed fans, foes, critics, and journalists with the autopilot and the success of its technology has triggered a race to deliver the self-driving car of the future. Alphabet’s Google currently has a fleet of self-driving prototypes and self-driving enabled Lexus on road tests in 3 U.S cities. Apple Inc. is reportedly building a self-driving car in project Titan. Other automakers and tech firms have expressed their interest in autonomous driving technology to one degree or the other. For now, Tesla leads the self-driving market; it would be interesting to see how the firm manages to hold on to that lead in the next couple of years.