“Autopilot”: Tesla engineer contradicts Elon Musk’s promise


For years, Tesla has been combining a number of assistance systems under “Autopilot”, which can currently also take over longitudinal and lateral guidance for a short time. This is the general state of the art in the automotive industry and Tesla doesn’t go beyond that to this day. There are technical reasons for this that are difficult to overcome. Tesla boss Elon Musk, on the other hand, has been giving the impression in his tweets for several years that Tesla is on the threshold of autonomy.

When he presented new hardware for the so-called “autopilot” in 2019, he promised that with his help at the end of 2020 “one million fully autonomous robotic taxis” could earn money for their owners.

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is therefore in contact with Tesla and asks Musk unpleasant questions. He feels criticism of a driver assistant as “idiotic”. It became known that DMV officials had asked a head of the autopilot development department what to think of Musk’s claims that Teslas should be able to drive completely autonomously this year.

Miguel Acosta, responsible for autonomous vehicles at the DMV, wrote a memorandum after these interviews in which he writes clearly: “Elon’s tweet does not correspond to the technical reality”. “Tesla is currently at level 2,” wrote Acosta. Musk’s claims were based only on an extrapolation of the speed of development and do not allow any statement to be made as to whether full autonomy could be achieved by the end of the calendar year. Tesla is also aware that the public’s misunderstanding about the limits of technology can have tragic consequences.

This admission is now one of the rare glimpses “how the autopilot developers had to balance the high expectations of their persistent boss with the concerns of the regulators”, summarizes Bloomberg.

The claims that Tesla boss Elon Musk has repeatedly tweeted for several years that Tesla will soon achieve level 5 autonomy with this feature has been classified as dubious for just as long. “Level 5” means that his cars no longer require human intervention. On the other hand, these tweets also build up an excess of trust, which repeatedly led to customers literally relying on the term “autopilot” and allowing their Teslas to chauffeur them over long distances.

There have already been a number of tragic accidents. Particularly shocking was a two-person accident on April 18 in Texas. Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board decided to investigate the incident because police and fire department reports said no one was in the driver’s seat. After this incident, the DMV called Tesla loudly Bloomberg in a letter to “provide clear and effective communication to customers, buyers and the general public about its autopilot capabilities, capabilities and how it works”.


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