Several months ago, Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk suggested that all of the brand’s vehicles would be Level 5 autonomous by the end of the year. Most scoffed at the notion as that kind of autonomy is not expected to be a reality for a few years at least.
However, he’s doubled down – sort of – in a recent tweet where he said a new chip that improves Autopilot features would be available in about six months in all of the company’s new production electric cars.
He provided an update on the new chip in a series of tweets, actually.
Musk said …”~6 months before it is in all new production cars. No change to sensors. This is simple replacement of the Autopilot computer. Will be done free of charge for those who ordered full self-driving.”
(Despite concerns, Musk promises “full self-driving” Autopilot to debut in August. Click Here for the story.)
He also tweeted that the new chip would improve the performance of Tesla’s Autopilot between 500% and 2000%. For those with Tesla’s not equipped with Autopilot, they can pony up $5,000 and get the chip and system update.
Tesla’s Autopilot is a driver assistance system that handles some driving tasks and allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel. Tesla warns drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times when using the system.
(Click Here for more about Tesla meeting its goal of 5,000 Model 3 sedans in one week.)
The Autopilot system, as currently configured, has been at the center of some controversy for much of the last year. It has been blamed by outsiders for several crashes. In fact, several safety groups have been calling on the company to rename the function to avoid future collisions.
Tesla officials, including Musk, have been quick to shift the blame to the drivers in all but one case, claiming they did not follow the instructions of the system, including saying that in some instances, drivers ignored audible signals to take control of their vehicles.
(Safety groups critical of name Autopilot and want it banned. For the full story, Click Here.)
For now, officials haven’t forced Tesla to rename the technology and the soon-to-be-offered upgrade is likely to bring all side to a head some time next year before the chips are available — or if another crash occurs.