My last post was about autonomous driving, and how Tesla is way ahead of the game. Since then, Waymo has actually unveiled driverless rides to the public in Arizona. While this is an incredible accomplishment, and Waymo has technically beat Tesla to the market in terms of offering paid rides via autonomous vehicles, the more important question to ask to understand who will capture more of the market is how scalable the two approaches are. Waymo’s technology uses LIDAR and high-res maps and is currently geofenced to some region in Arizona, which means that it can’t be used anywhere that hasn’t been mapped or allowed to operate. Tesla’s approach is a general approach that would be able to operate on roads it has never seen before.
Here’s a video I saw of a Tesla Model X owner using the beta version of FSD. It is quite impressive!
The driver did not have to intervene once throughout the trip (of course we’ll have to take his word for it). The visualization of what the computer vision sees is pretty cool. You can see curb detection in red, dividers, lanes, pedestrians and a lot more. It is impressive that the car avoids bike lanes, handles roundabouts, waits for pedestrians, and navigates roads without lane markings.
I am genuinely curious how the system actually works under the hood, and how it’s so smooth in its decision making and not changing its “mind” or decision frequently. I said in my last post that Elon announced this beta was coming, but I took it with a grain of salt but alas, here we are! The future is going to be very interesting.
As a Model 3 owner with the FSD option, I’m super excited to try this when it’s available. However, safety is important, and I may have to let others iron out any bugs for a few releases to minimize risk on my end since I have a baby to take care of!
The fact that a beta release of a full self driving vehicle is available to small number of Tesla owners that appears to work extremely well is astonishing. I believe that the upside potential for autonomous vehicles has not yet been significantly reflected in Tesla’s stock price. A robo taxi fleet would lead to even more demand for their vehicles, and Tesla would be able to capture margins much greater than the likes of Uber and Lyft who pay drivers the majority of the price of the ride. Every FSD enabled Tesla will in theory become a money making machine. While unlikely, Tesla could in theory license its technology to other auto manufacturers. It seems unlikely because the other car makers would have to add the same sensors that Teslas have (8 cameras, 1 radar, and ultrasonic sensors), and I’m not sure how feasible that is since it requires a change in how the car is actually built.
Regardless, I look forward to the day I can let my car generate income for my family!