Tesla’s fully autonomous driving is here, Musk: I’m a “heterogeneous”

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Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday night local time that Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software has been pushed to a small number of customers.

Although there is not much complete information released, and it is not clear which regions users will receive the push, whether the local government allows it, but as the world’s first highest-level autonomous driving system, Tesla’s action Still earned people a lot of attention.

Earlier this month, Musk revealed to the public some information about the upcoming beta version of fully automated driving software, indicating that it will be able to achieve zero-intervention autonomous driving.

From the launch of Autopilot to FSD, Tesla’s attitude towards autonomous driving has always been recognized as a representative of the “radical” in the industry. In the face of fully automated driving, the situation has become a little different. Autopilot has become the benchmark of the entire industry to a certain extent, but after experiencing the development boom that is sought after by capital, the entire industry has gradually become calmer and has basically formed a consensus: a fully automated driving system will never arrive in the short term .

Musk’s high-profile announcement made Tesla an “alien.” So, what is the difference between Tesla?

“Cautious” fully automated driving is here

Musk bounced again, but it only lasted one day.

On October 21, Beijing time, Musk tweeted that the FSD beta will be released in the evening. It was not until the next day that this feature was officially launched. Musk also announced that starting next Monday, the price of the FSD kit will increase by about $2,000.


At the same time, some people on Twitter started to “show” the FSD beta version update push they received, sending out pictures and video demos. According to the FSD upgrade instructions posted by some users, this is an early test version of FSD and must be used with caution. “It may do wrong things in the worst possible time”, emphasizing that “drivers must always keep their hands on the steering wheel. Pay attention to the road.”

When FSD is enabled, vehicles will be able to automatically change lanes on highways. Select the correct road direction at the fork according to the navigation, and at the same time process the relationship with other vehicles and surrounding objects according to the navigation route, such as overtaking, etc. The vehicle can also automatically turn. However, Tesla officials reminded that in visual blind areas, intersections and narrow driving environments, drivers should pay special attention to the surrounding environment and be prepared to take over at any time.

Tesla's fully autonomous driving is here, Musk: I'm a

Tesla FSD beta upgrade instructions circulating online | Twitter

Musk said on Twitter that the push of FSD beta software updates will be very slow and cautious, “because it should be.”

In the video posted by another user, you can see the working status of the FSD system. On a straight road, it will automatically stop and start when it encounters a traffic light. The vehicles on the entire road can be seen on the left half of the Tesla central control screen, and the right half is the navigation map.

According to users who have experienced FSD, Tesla safely turned left at an intersection, the experience was amazing. But the only fly in the ointment is that the picture showing the road on the big screen is really ugly. It may be necessary to iterate on the interactive design of the later system UI.

Unlike the aggressiveness when Autopilot, a driving assistance system, was first introduced, Tesla’s attitude towards FSD was slightly low-key, and repeated emphasis on “safety”. Most importantly, Tesla has taken the first step towards “self-driving.”

Radical assisted driving

In October 2015, Tesla’s Autopilot, a driving assistance function, was officially released, exciting Tesla fans all over the world.

In fact, until the Autopilot7.1 system is released, Tesla equipped with a full set of autonomous driving hardware can use the assisted driving function. Because the experience surpassed all the luxury models at the time, it was regarded as redefining “assisted driving.” At the same time, Model S can also be regarded as the first vehicle equipped with L2 level assisted driving system.

According to the definition of L2 level autonomous driving by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the basic operation of this function is completed by the vehicle, and the driver is responsible for surrounding monitoring and taking over the vehicle at any time. The main functions include ACC automatic cruise, automatic car following, and automatic parking. Car and so on.

Later, many car companies followed up and even became standard equipment for mid-to-high-end models, but looking back, Tesla is undoubtedly the most radical one. Of course, this strategy has also attracted some controversy for Tesla. At the beginning, Tesla didn’t even make it clear that L2 assisted driving requires the driver to always pay attention during the driving process. The hands cannot be separated from the steering wheel, and it is only written in the product manual. This obscure operation was even caused indirectly. In 2016 alone, there were two fatal traffic accidents due to Autopilot.

Until now, although the hardware of Tesla vehicles has been upgraded to the third generation and the software has become more and more perfect, it still cannot allow the driver to completely leave the steering wheel. Occasionally, accidents still occur, and some car owners are so bold to sleep in the driving car.


Tesla with the assisted driving function failed to distinguish the truck ahead and an accident occurred. The driver did not pay attention at the time | Network

The FSD beta version of this update has directly crossed several steps on the basis of Autopilot and touched the threshold of L5 level. SAE defines L5 autonomous driving as completely unmanned, with L3 and L4 separated between them, which is the highest level of autonomous driving capability. The former is what car companies are trying to achieve, while the latter is a field that car companies or autonomous driving startups hope to conquer at this stage.

It is not difficult to imagine how difficult it is to achieve L5 level autonomous driving: a large number of changeable traffic scenes, diversified road types, complex traffic participants and extreme weather environments will all be aware of the perception and decision-making of autonomous driving And control capabilities pose huge challenges. In fact, the FSD beta version that Tesla is showing today is not actually a fully automatic driving in the true sense.

But Tesla has made a lot of preparations in this regard. The hardware upgrade is one of the most important points. Tesla launched its self-developed FSD chip in 2019, making it possible to achieve high-level autonomous driving.

Interestingly, looking back from now on, Tesla’s self-developed chips seem to be “forced and helpless.”

In the first few years, Tesla’s self-driving chips and some of its solutions were handed over to partners. From September 2014 to July 2016, all Model Ss produced were equipped with Mobileye (later acquired by Intel) chips. It’s a pity that the good times didn’t last long. The cooperation lasted only two years, and the relationship between the two broke down, and the government announced a “breakup.”

Although neither Tesla nor Mobileye have publicly disclosed reasons, most people speculate that this move is related to the technical route. Tesla is a radical, and Mobileye is more willing to cooperate with large car companies to take a more conservative self-driving route.

Later, Tesla chose Nvidia as the supplier of autopilot chips. At the same time, perhaps to be on the safe side, Tesla began chip research and development, and released FSD chips in April 2019, and the third-generation hardware architecture based on FSD chips. . Tesla finally “abandoned” Nvidia completely.

A senior practitioner in the automotive field once told Geek Park (ID: geekpark) that NVIDIA built general-purpose chips, which cannot play the biggest role in the vertical field of autonomous driving, while FSD chips are specifically developed for autonomous driving technology. Parameters such as computing power can also be maximized. “Nvidia xavier can allocate less than 50% of the computing power for autonomous driving. The FSD chip can use 90% of the computing power on it, and it fully complies with Tesla’s own hardware architecture, making sufficient preparations for autonomous driving.” Practitioners said.

It’s just that no one thought that Tesla could go so fast.

Musk announced at the 2020 World Artificial Intelligence Conference that Tesla is very close to L5 autonomous driving and will complete the development of L5 basic functions this year. Musk specifically pointed out that L5 level autonomous driving will be realized through existing hardware versions and continuously improved software.

In the following months, Tesla’s “supercomputer” project Dojo and Battery Day announced a fundamental rewrite of the entire autonomous driving software stack. News about Tesla’s autonomous driving continued to be released, users and The expectations of the entire industry have also risen.

The core competitiveness of the car

Self-driving taxis have now become “net celebrity” projects, strictly speaking, autonomous driving within a limited range, belonging to the L4 level. For higher-level L5, the industry is generally in the wait-and-see stage.

“After experiencing a wave of craze, the industry has returned to rationality. There is still a huge gap between L4 and L5 in the true sense.” An industry observer told Geek Park.

But Tesla did not believe in this evil. When the whole world was pessimistic about autonomous driving, FSD was born.

Regardless of the business logic of traditional car manufacturers, even if the business logic of the current new car-building forces is applied to Tesla, or Musk himself, it cannot be fully established.

For an automobile company from 0 to 1, the primary goal is to create a brand that occupies the minds of consumers. After autonomous driving has mature conditions, it can bet with advanced technology such as high-level autonomous driving to form the absolute competitiveness of the brand . More than one practitioner told Geek Park that high-level autonomous driving has not yet formed the mature conditions for large-scale applications. If car companies rush into autonomous driving research and development, it is likely to have a great impact on the company’s revenue. This is why car companies are not as radical as startups that specialize in autonomous driving.

This is an era that is newer than traditional cars, and it is also an era in which new business logic is gradually unfolding. But for Tesla, what is certain is that, starting with Autopilot, Tesla has always regarded autonomous driving technology as the most urgent and critical competitiveness for expanding the market and user scale.

Before the official launch of Autopilot, Musk mentioned in a conference that self-driving cars are a kind of “AI in a narrow sense.” “The realization of autonomous driving is less difficult than people think. I almost see it as a solved problem.” Not long after, Musk also predicted that fully autonomous driving will be launched in 2018. It is undeniable that these words have “braggering” elements, after all, Musk skipped a lot of votes. But judging from the trend he has long believed in and the completion of Tesla, Tesla is quickly completing the previously promised goals.

“You can’t use conventional thinking to judge what Musk wants to do.” The above observer commented. If you regard Musk as the core of a business system, it is not only Tesla that surrounds him, but a business system composed of aerospace, clean energy, automobile manufacturing, human brain science and other cutting-edge technologies. The sections are both independent and mutually echoing.

For example, when car companies are trying to make L3 level autonomous driving the target of the next key research and development promotion, Musk used a tweet to tell everyone that L5 is what Tesla cares most about. All of Tesla’s actions can also be made with this logic.

Geek Park previously mentioned the price cut of the domestic Tesla Model 3. In addition to the growth rate of sales, it is also one of the core elements to accumulate data for the launch of FSD.

At the shortly-concluded Tesla’s third quarter 2020 earnings meeting, Musk confronted this question: “It is necessary to reduce the price of the product to a level where people can afford it. I don’t think everyone is right about our products. There is no desire, what our products lack is only the degree of affordability. Therefore, we have to increase the degree of affordability of our products so that people have the opportunity to obtain them.

The “benefit level” mentioned here, of course, automatic driving can be regarded as one of them. Musk also mentioned: “Regarding profit margins, if everyone takes autonomous driving into account, all these other profit margins will not be worth mentioning.”

Under the general background, now is the best moment in Tesla’s history. There are also many small opportunities on the road to autopilot. Adding the two, Musk’s “different” will be guaranteed.

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