All vehicles coming out of Tesla’s factory — even the Model 3 — will now have full self-driving capability, the electric car company has announced.
And that full self-driving capability means the vehicles will operate at a safety level that is significantly higher than that of a human driver, the company said in a blog post Wednesday.
“All cars that Tesla makes from here on out will have hardware needed to be fully autonomous, or driverless,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told reporters during a conference call.
The Summit 2013 – Picture by Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media – www.heisenbergmedia.com
“The foundation is laid for the cars to be fully autonomous, at a safety level we believe to be at least twice that of a person,” Musk said, adding the level of safety will continue to increase as the “system ages.”
To bring that to pass, Tesla will install eight surround cameras providing 360-degree visibility around the car for up to 250 meters. On top of this are 12 ultrasonic sensors enabling detection of objects at nearly twice the distance of the previous system. A forward-facing radar equipped with enhanced processing will offer up further data.
Processing the data will be a new and much more powerful onboard computer with the Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software.
As Tesla puts it, the system “provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses.”
The system will gradually work its way up to Level 5 autonomy, meaning having the ability to self-drive on any road in any conditions.
Musk also got a bit snarky with reporters after being asked if Tesla would be liable if one of its cars crash while operating autopilot.
He said Tesla would only be responsible if there were a design or engineering flaw. He then went on to give the media a bit of a tongue lashing.
“One of the things I should mention that frankly has been quite disturbing to me is the degree of media coverage of Autopilot crashes, which are basically almost none relative to the paucity of media coverage of the 1.2 million people that die every year in manual crashes,” he said. “(It is) something that I think does not reflect well upon the media. It really doesn’t. Because, and really you need to think carefully about this, because if, in writing some article that’s negative, you effectively dissuade people from using an autonomous vehicle, you’re killing people.”
Musk’s comments come in the wake of extensive media coverage of its Autopilot system being under investigation by U.S. regulators after two crashes, one of them fatal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into the role the system played in two crashes: a fatal crash May 7 involving a Tesla Model S vehicle and a July 1 crash involving a Model X.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.
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