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Transportation AI Software

Tesla Will Have Self-driving Cars In Just Two Years, Elon Musk Boldly Declares (fortune.com) 172

An anonymous reader writes: In a new interview with Fortune, outspoken Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric automaker is just two years away from developing fully autonomous vehicles that can operate ably and safely in any type of environment. While Musk has long championed an automotive age filled with self-driving cars, this is the most optimistic timeline for their deployment we've seen Musk make yet. In fact, Musk in 2014 said the requisite technology to manufacture a self-driving car was still about five to six years away. "I think we have all the pieces," Musk said, "and it's just about refining those pieces, putting them in place, and making sure they work across a huge number of environments—and then we're done. It's a much easier problem than people think it is."
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Tesla Will Have Self-driving Cars In Just Two Years, Elon Musk Boldly Declares

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  • Elon is apparently still riding the high of Falcon 9 success, a feat which while absolutely amazing, pales in complexity to self-driving cars. I certainly wish him luck, I love his bravado for sure; but me thinks NOT.
    • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @09:32PM (#51168971)

      The google cars are driving themselves already now. One could easily just replicate the technology they use and get those things onto the streets, right now. But it would be extremely risky, because google drives them in a fairly controlled environment, and the number of accidents that will happen will multiply by a large count. The question is whether one should start throwing a technology onto the markets when its still incomplete and not polished, or whether one should wait some years before that is possible.

      When you launch rockets, you have fairly moderate risk connected to it. Yes, money can burn, but unless you have manned missions, no human will get harmed. Most rocket launches don't have humans on board. Cars on the other hand drive so that they can transport humans. Many cars also drive to transport cargo, but even if they drove without human oversight, they would still be on roads populated by cars with humans. So the risk connected is far higher for cars. Also, with rockets, the astronauts chose themselves if they want to become astronauts, and live with the risk of dying in a rocket accident. But with cars, you can't chose if a self driving car is with you on the street.

      We should do what the AC in the rocket launch story suggested: wait until the first service pack is out. We shouldn't throw an immature technology on the market.

      Also, one has to talk about software updates for self driving cars. Almost every hardware stops getting software updates by their manufacturer at some point. You can't have cars with EOLed firmware driving on the streets. Nobody should make money by selling security improvements that just mean to flip a switch.

      • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

        Also, one has to talk about software updates for self driving cars. Almost every hardware stops getting software updates by their manufacturer at some point. You can't have cars with EOLed firmware driving on the streets.

        Cars with EOLed firmware will not be allowed on the street, you will have to buy a new car. Yay for planned obsolescence.

      • by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @02:41AM (#51170013)

        "But with cars, you can't chose if a self driving car is with you on the street." I already can't choose if drunks, teenagers, and idiots are on the street with me -- I'll take self-driving cars over at least half the drivers I see every day. Self driving cars would be easy to be on the road with -- predictable, not distracted, and no road rage.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        The google cars are driving themselves already now. One could easily just replicate the technology they use and get those things onto the streets, right now. But it would be extremely risky, because google drives them in a fairly controlled environment, and the number of accidents that will happen will multiply by a large count. The question is whether one should start throwing a technology onto the markets when its still incomplete and not polished, or whether one should wait some years before that is possible.

        Well, except technology doesn't age like a fine wine. It won't be mature technology before it has lots of real world testing and a lot of developers have worked on it for a long time to work out the bugs, both of which involve bringing a product to market and getting a cash flow going. Google's approach has been the Big Bang, when it's <agile>Done</agile> the car will drive itself and until then it will be a lab project doing controlled experiments. Tesla's approach has been to put it out there

        • It won't be mature technology before it has lots of real world testing and a lot of developers have worked on it for a long time to work out the bugs,
          the self driving cars where I was involved in making automated tests for the software: already have over a million miles of autonomous driving on public roads! So what do you want more? Which bugs?

      • We shouldn't throw an immature technology on the market.
        You are something like 15 - 20 years behind "state of the art".

        Basically every majour car company already has self driving cars. BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota ... no idea about that backward country that proudly proclaims itself "gods own country".

        • We shouldn't throw an immature technology on the market. You are something like 15 - 20 years behind "state of the art".

          Basically every majour car company already has self driving cars. BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota ... no idea about that backward country that proudly proclaims itself "gods own country".

          The cars available now are only self driving up to a point. You can't sit in one, tell it to take you to work, and fall asleep, unless your home and work are connected by a clear motorway.

      • by rch7 ( 4086979 )

        It is not that easy to replicate Google approach as as far as I heard they try to map every rock on the street in advance. To replicate it nationwide it would take a lot of resources only Google has so far.
        Insurance companies may be willing to underwrite liability insurance though anyway if it is not perfect but incident rate matches average driver on the street including drunks and raging & racing idiots.

    • Elon is apparently still riding the high of Falcon 9 success, a feat which while absolutely amazing, pales in complexity to self-driving cars.

      Ummm...I kinda doubt that. One of their engineers did the math and found that it was just like trying to launch a really fragile pencil over the empire state building and then have it land on a moving shoe box in heavy wind. NOT a trivial thing to do. Hell, most people couldn't even figure out how to make the pencil actually launch.

      I think the really, truly, absolutely hardest part of making self driving cars a reality is the politics. Why? Because people worry about everything from skynet to "think of the

  • Time to purchase some Tesla stock.

    Every time Musk says something positive about Tesla in a public forum, the stock jumps higher, usually in the $12 to $15 range. Then slowly goes down again over the subsequent 2 weeks.

    Look to see a big jump around Monday, after everyone has done with the holidays and logs into their stock accounts over the weekend.

    Just 'sayin...

    • Musk is proof of the modern phenomenon that you don't actually need to build a better mousetrap to get the world beating a path to your door. You just have to be able to promise a better mousetrap tomorrow, once the government stop interfering.
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @09:25PM (#51168949) Homepage Journal

    As I recall, Google has been saying for while that they'd have something ready by 2017. On the one hand it seems like it should be surprising if Tesla manages to make it to market at the same time, since they got a much later start. On the other hand, it probably shouldn't surprise us if multiple companies get there at about the same time, since it's less about the cleverness in building the system than it is about having all of the fundamental technological pieces to do it. In particular, I think deep learning neural networks are the core technology that will make effective fully-autonomous cars feasible (plus the sensors, but those have been available for years), and to a large degree the whole world got access to that theory and practice at about the same time.

    What is surprising to me is that we haven't heard more from the likes of Freightliner. IMO, that is the first really major market for self-driving vehicles, and those don't even need to be fully autonomous. If tractor-trailer rigs can just drive themselves on the freeway, freight companies can immediately get rid of 90% of their drivers and massively reduce their costs, by having a human drive the truck to the freeway then hop out and let it travel to the destination city, where another human will drive it through town to its destination. Plus, given the price of a semi tractor, adding $50K or even $100K for an automation suite is a relatively small incremental cost, while it's a rather large chunk of change for a passenger vehicle.

    (Disclaimer: I work for Google, but not on self-driving vehicles and I don't know any more about the status of Google's system than what is in the public press.)

    • What is surprising to me is that we haven't heard more from the likes of Freightliner.

      Mercedes has always been risk-averse. They're not afraid to cram a lot of fancy technology into their S-Class cars, but most of it is well-proven long before they shove it in there anyway. Meanwhile, they mostly do things the old way and let other companies take the risks. Freightliner has only announced plans for driver assistance so far, and no full autonomy.

      • What is surprising to me is that we haven't heard more from the likes of Freightliner.

        Mercedes has always been risk-averse. They're not afraid to cram a lot of fancy technology into their S-Class cars, but most of it is well-proven long before they shove it in there anyway. Meanwhile, they mostly do things the old way and let other companies take the risks. Freightliner has only announced plans for driver assistance so far, and no full autonomy.

        Well, whichever of the truck manufacturers gets there first -- Mack, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Volvo, etc. -- is going to do a great business. Long haul trucking is just begging for automation.

        • Well, whichever of the truck manufacturers gets there first -- Mack, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Volvo, etc. -- is going to do a great business. Long haul trucking is just begging for automation.

          I agree, but the problem is the states. Unless the Federal government forces them to fall in line somehow, each one is going to regulate self-driving vehicles differently (as they are now) and make it basically impossible for fully automated long-haul trucking. That's one reason why Freightliner hasn't gone all in. (I watch Autoline This Week... if you're interested in this stuff they're probably the best English-language source for industry discussion, and it's free.)

          • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

            Even a 'Tesla Auto Pilot' like feature would probably be a huge win for long haul trucking. Its just a fact long hours on the interstate means most of our minds wonder to thing that are not driving. Now that the technology exists it should be reasonably in expensive to implement and deploy on new vehicles. Seems like for a firm operating even a moderate number of rigs the added cost of having the feature would pay for itself if it prevents even a few highway accidents related to inattentiveness or a dro

        • Well, whichever of the truck manufacturers gets there first -- Mack, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Volvo, etc. -- is going to do a great business.
          They are all there already. Especially as they buy equipment from the same providers. It is basically just a few years till legislations are adapted and then off hey go.

  • by Gimric ( 110667 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @09:37PM (#51168991)

    More context:

    “We’re going to end up with complete autonomy, and I think we will have complete autonomy in approximately two years.” That doesn’t mean city streets will be overflowing with driverless Tesla vehicles by 2018 (coincidentally, the company’s Model 3 should be on roads by then). Musk expects regulators will lag behind the technology. He predicts it will take an additional year for regulators to determine that it’s safe and to go through an approval process. In some jurisdictions, it may take five years or more, he says.

    • by bazorg ( 911295 )

      yep. Adding lobbying power and helping new regulations come into place is the other reason why Tesla wants to cooperate with the established motor industry players. Selling batteries is just one part of the story.

  • Model E or whatever he called it, an electric car with some 200+ mile range under 40K. When did he say it would ship?

    Anyway congrats on landing Falcon rocket. So yeah, he over promises and under delivers. But even his under delivered stuff is way too awesome.

  • by unencode200x ( 914144 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @09:44PM (#51169009)
    We'll having flying Teslas in three years! Finally, our childhood dreams embodied.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @11:03PM (#51169263) Journal

    Can someone please give Elon Musk a smack? He's just trolling us now.

  • "Tesla Will Have Self-driving Cars" is very very very far from "Tesla Will Have Self-driving Cars that are approved to sell to the public"

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @06:33AM (#51170593)
    "operate ably and safely in any kind of environment"?

    Can it to tell that the man in front is a cop giving hand signals (and obey those signals) as opposed to some crazy person? Can it know not to stop for a potential carjacker? Can it read road diversion signs? Can it read temporary speed restrictions and roadwork signs? Can it negotiate a crossroads where the lights are out in a way that gives priority and due consideration to other drivers? Can it navigate in a long tunnel, double decker road, multi story carpark or other areas that have no GPS signal? Can it tell the difference between a bus which has stopped to pick up passengers, as opposed to a bus which has broken down and needs to be passed? Can it operate when rain or snow are impeding its sensors? Can it tell the difference between a pothole and a puddle? Can it tell the difference between a plastic bag blowing by and a child running across the street and react appropriately? Can it tell the difference between pedestrians waiting to cross vs those standing with no intention of crossing?

    I bet there are a LOT of situation that neither Tesla vehicles or any others can be trusted to operate properly. I expect they'll do fine on motorways and certain predictable lengths of urban road. I expect they'll be so annoyingly bad in cities and towns that they'll be turned off or they'll be the cause of accidents.

    • Can it to tell that the man in front is a cop giving hand signals (and obey those signals) as opposed to some crazy person? Can it know not to stop for a potential carjacker?

      Can a human?

      Can it read road diversion signs? Can it read temporary speed restrictions and roadwork signs?

      yes and yes. can humans deploy them correctly?

      Can it negotiate a crossroads where the lights are out in a way that gives priority and due consideration to other drivers?

      Yes, probably better than humans. Odds are its major problem will be getting across the street, not giving consideration to others.

      Can it tell the difference between a bus which has stopped to pick up passengers, as opposed to a bus which has broken down and needs to be passed?

      There is no difference, unless it is a school bus, and then it has flashing red lights which are easy to detect. It would be nice if the human bus driver could use the signals correctly, though. Both lights flashing means "go around me" and the laneward light flashing means "I am about to make a turn" but many bus drivers

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        The answer to all your questions is that in the vast number of intractable analogue scenarios that drivers face, yes a human can do better than a computer. There is no use pretending that they can't. Drinking the koolaid from the likes of Tesla and Google doesn't make these problems disappear.

        What humans are terrible at are reaction speeds and behaving to abnormal emergency events such as a skid or a tyre blowing out. A car equipped with monitoring and emergency collision avoidance would be a far more wor

      • Can it tell the difference between a plastic bag blowing by and a child running across the street and react appropriately?

        Again, with the right sensors, it can do it better than you can... in the dark, anyway. You don't have any senses which measure density.

        Humans don't need senses to measure density. We can tell whether it's a plastic bag or a child quite easily. And in the dark, we tend to have our headlights on.

        Can it tell the difference between pedestrians waiting to cross vs those standing with no intention of crossing?

        Can a human?

        Er, yes. We can.

        Some of your answers read like an alien robot who is confused by us imperfect meatbags.

    • Can it to tell that the man in front is a cop giving hand signals (and obey those signals) as opposed to some crazy person?
      What would be the difference? Would you run over the crazy person? On what legal base?

      Can it know not to stop for a potential carjacker?
      Likely not, can you?

      Can it read road diversion signs?
      Yes, why should it not?

      Can it read temporary speed restrictions and roadwork signs?
      Of course, that is state of the art, and all high end german cars already have that built in. I guess most other E

  • Good. There have been too many glazed-eye douches in Tesla who have nearly run me down in crosswalks. This does not, alas, mean that American car sitters of other vehicle types are really any better at not running down pedestrians, but when you've built a mostly survivable car hell, what can one expect?

    • by haruchai ( 17472 )

      So you mean the Tesla drivers aren't paying attention because the car is too quiet or that YOU are not paying attention because you can't hear the car?

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