A humble Elon Musk? It’s a rarity, but that’s what took to Twitter Aug. 23, describing his own company’s latest version of Full Self-Driving beta as “not great imo” after it got a positive review from industry expert Sandy Munro.
“FSD Beta 9.2 is actually not great, imo, but Autopilot/AI team is rallying to improve as fast as possible,” Musk tweeted Aug. 23. “We’re trying to have a single stack for both highway & city streets, but it requires massive NN retraining.”
The posting from Musk came after a tweet showing a video clip of Munro, who runs a competitive analysis firm near Detroit, finishing up a turn behind the wheel of a Ford vehicle equipped with the automaker’s new BlueCruise semi-autonomous driving technology.
Munro, who once was considered a Tesla critic, but has since become more effusive in his praise of the EV maker, offered a tepid review of the technology before pointing to Tesla’s technology as something Ford should seek to emulate.
“All in all, it was ok,” he said. “I guess I’ve been a little bit spoiled by watching what Tesla’s been doing with the Full Self-Driving beta. That is really impressive and I’m going to suggest somehow, if you can, you get your hands on that and try it out. It’ll really help you understand what I was talking about.”
Tesla’s tech issues
While Full Self-Driving is the gold standard, if Musk is to be believed, it’s not without its critics and the company’s technology isn’t without some issues overall. First and foremost, FSD’s predecessor, Autopilot, is the subject of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Specifically, the safety agency is looking into 11 crashes during which Tesla vehicles are believed to have been operating in Autopilot and struck stationary vehicles operated by emergency responders.
Radar and even camera sensors can have problems recognizing stationary obstacles, several experts told TheDetroitBureau.com. Such situations are even more complex when cones or emergency vehicles are involved, Duke University engineering professor Mary Cummings told the Wall Street Journal.
The problem is that each emergency situation presents a different visual target that systems like Autopilot may not have been trained to recognize. “This is why emergency situations are so problematic,” Cummings said. “The visual presentation is never the same.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the new NHTSA probe. But CEO Musk has frequently defended the Autopilot system, often claiming it is safer to use than relying on human drivers alone. He is also promising to bring out a fully hands-free version of the technology, though the rollout has repeatedly been delayed and now is not expected to occur until at least 2022.