As a show of the company’s new self-driving capabilities, Tesla will send an Autopilot-enabled vehicle across the country, from Los Angeles to New York, sometime in 2017, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
To be completely clear, the whole trip will be performed by the onboard autonomous driving system (Autopilot). If successful, the trip would certainly be a first, and it will also be an extremely popular (read: effective) PR stunt. Is there a media outlet that won’t cover this?
As we reported earlier this week, as of right now, every Tesla coming off of the company’s production lines is outfitted with a self-driving hardware suite that will basically make a human driver unnecessary. The technology will reportedly allow for fully autonomous travel once regulatory agencies are satisfied with data collected from the vehicles (which will presumably show that self-driving Teslas are much safer than human-driven cars).
The new hardware suite features 8 cameras that together provide 360-degree visibility around the car “at up to 250 meters of range.” Nothing else on the market compares. Here’s more from Tesla if you missed the details:
“Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength, capable of seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.
“To make sense of all of this data, a new onboard computer with more than 40 times the computing power of the previous generation runs the new Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software. Together, this system provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses.”
On Tesla’s press call about the new self-driving hardware, Elon was prepared to unveil a sweet addendum — that Tesla will send a self-driving car from Los Angeles to New York sometime before the end of 2017. Yes, for anyone who still wasn’t sure about this, Elon was referencing true “Level 5” autonomous driving technology that will be built into every Tesla Model 3 that is produced. Presumably, the car will charge itself using Tesla’s snake chargers, but we’ll have to wait to see.
That’ll certainly make for quite a publicity stunt, won’t it?
In addition to offering a more compelling product than any of its competitors, Tesla seems to have a much better understanding of how to generate media buzz.