September 27th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
Tesla Full Self Driving Schedule Update
During Tesla’s annual shareholder and Battery Day event, Elon Musk slid in a hopeful promise of a private beta version of Full Self Driving in about a month or so. Elon Musk says he calls the software rewrite that enables this “4D” in the sense that it’s three dimensions with time added into the mix. This follows a tweet two weeks ago stating, “Releasing private beta in 2 to 4 weeks, public beta (early access owners who opt in) 4 to 6 weeks after that, then all US Tesla owners mid December. Above schedule is contingent upon not encountering major unexpected setbacks.” At the shareholder meeting, that timeline got pushed back a bit.
“I think we’ll hopefully release a private beta of Autopilot, of the full self-driving version of Autopilot in, I think, a month or so, and then people will really understand just the magnitude of the change. It’s profound. So, yeah. Anyway, so, you’ll see it. It’s just like a hell of a step change, but because we had to rewrite everything — labeling software, just the entire code base — it took us quite a while. … I call it like 4D in the sense that it’s three dimensions plus time. It’s just taken us a while to rewrite everything. And, so, you’ll see what it’s like. It’s amazing. Yeah. It’s just clearly going to work,” Elon said.
Private beta of Autopilot rewrite in a month or so
Magnitude of the changes is profound
“It’s a hell of step change” — @elonmusk
— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) September 22, 2020
Tesla Autopilot Is Safer
Elon also noted that Autopilot functionality is continuing to improve. He cited Tesla’s quarterly safety report. “It’s just getting better and better,” he said, while pointing out that the US average for collisions (1 accident every 479,000 miles) is far worse than the average for those driving with Autopilot engaged (1 accident every 4.53 million miles). Here’s a chart we’ve created on Tesla’s latest numbers:
Elon noted that it will continue to get better than that and said that “we’re confident that over time we can get the probability of an accident, especially the probability of injury, to 10 times better than the industry average, like an order of magnitude better.” This will not only save lives but prevent a lot of injuries and accidents, also lowering insurance costs. This, he said, is “a huge priority for us.”
Elon explained that it is pretty hard for people to perceive the progress of Autopilot, and I agree. For those who don’t have a Tesla or have one without Autopilot, they may not get just how important this technology is or understand how it has been evolving over time. Elon noted that he is driving “the bleeding edge alpha build of Autopilot,” meaning that he has insight into the next steps that no one else has seen.
After running into a wall with the previous Autopilot software, Tesla decided to do a big rewrite. It is now labeling what the cars see in 3D video, which is vastly different from before. Tesla used to label images from the eight cameras and these would be labeled at different times by different people. With some of these labels, one couldn’t tell what was being labeled and there were a lot of errors. With Tesla’s new labeling tools, they are able to label entire video segments in the system. Furthermore, they are labeling across time, which is what makes it “4D,” according to Elon. “So it’s now taking all cameras simultaneously and looking at how the image has changed over time and labeling that, and then the sophistication of the neural nets in the car and the overall logic in the car has improved dramatically,” Elon said.
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