Elon Musk Tweets Up A Storm About Autopilot

Elon Musk and Autopilot

Under pressure to calm fears about its Autopilot system, Elon Musk and Tesla have been working overtime with Bosch Global, which supplies the radar unit used by Tesla, and MobilEye, which supplies the cameras and some software for the system. On Sunday, Musk hinted that significant improvements to Autopilot may be possible via over the air software updates without the need to add new hardware.

There have been hints that Tesla may be thinking of adding LIDAR to the Autopilot suite of sensors, especially after a white Model S with a bulbous LIDAR array strapped to its roof was spotted driving around Palo Alto before entering Tesla headquarters earlier this month. Musk has said publicly he is not a fan of LIDAR because it does not see through rain, fog, mist, and dust as well as radar. It does do a better job of detecting living organisms, like people and animals, however.

Musk was asked yesterday on Twitter about improving Autopilot’s ability to detect pedestrians.

Autopilot currently uses version 7 software. Version 8 is said to be on the horizon, although its exact release date is unknown. Musk did acknowledge that it will be the largest software update since the original Autopilot software was downloaded.

Undeterred by recent criticism of its Autopilot system Musk and Tesla are pushing ahead as fast as possible with updates that will make the system better and more reliable. With roughly 90% of the 32,000 traffic fatalities in the US every year attributed to driver error, Autopilot and similar systems could dramatically reduce the level of carnage on the nation’s highways.

Tesla is also thought to be well along on major advances in autonomous driving as part of its planning of the upcoming Model 3. That car, due out by the end of 2017, will feature an innovative new dashboard design with nothing but a central touchscreen. Many expect cutting edge new heads up display technology and a significant advance in self driving capability. Fully autonomous cars are coming and of all the world’s manufacturers, Tesla is the most likely to be the first to bring them to market.

It has no intention of letting the flap over Autopilot following the death of Joshua Brown on May 7 slow down its quest to make driving safer for everyone.

Source: Teslarati  Photo credit: Tesla Motors

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.