Originally published on Gas2.
All self driving cars have one thing in common — a combination of radars, cameras, ultrasonic sensors and GPS receivers that tell them where they are and how to proceed to their destination. They also rely to some extent on digital maps to help them find their way. Google and Apple both have invested a lot of time and money on fleets of cars that drive around, collecting data.
As usual, Tesla has a better idea and it’s brilliant. Instead of relying on a small fleet of dedicated road mapping vehicles, Tesla will use cloud technology to map roads, then share that data wirelessly with every Tesla ever built. The power to do that is included in the Version 7.0 software Tesla started downloading to its Model S sedans last week. Elon Musk called this a “fleet learning network” where all its cars contribute to a shared database. “When one car learns something, all learn,” said Musk, according to a report on Mashable.
Musk points out a section of Interstate 405 in California, a heavily traveled highway with lanes that are often poorly marked. Using the GPS information supplied by other Model S drivers who have traveled this specific section of road, Tesla’s Autopilot can still function with confidence, even in the absence of lane markings.
Musk thinks this is the biggest difference between Tesla and its rivals is in the self driving car sphere. We know Google is pursuing its own autonomous car. Apple is also hard at work on its Project Titan car. When it gets here in 2019 or so, we can expect it will feature cutting edge technology. But neither company will have the library of detailed digital maps Tesla will have acquired by that time. Did London put up a new traffic light over the weekend? Did the city of San Jose change the lane markings on Silver Creek Road recently? Tesla will know and that information will be shared with every Tesla ever made instantly via the internet.
Tesla High-precision Road Map
Earlier this year, Uber made an attempt to purchase the Nokia Here! maps, but was outbid by a consortium of companies, including Audi, BMW and Mercedes. But their autonomous driving car will be using digital maps that look like the one on the left above. Teslas will be using digital maps that look like the one on the right. Once again, Tesla will be years ahead of its competitors.
Photo credit: Mashable.com
Reprinted with permission.
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