(KRON) Tesla CEO Elon Musk has told investors that the company’s computer to enable its electric cars to become self–driving vehicles is powered by the best processing chip in the world.
Musk made the bold declaration Monday during an event that Tesla is hosting in Silicon Valley to show off its plans to give the owners of its cars the option to turn all the driving over to a robot.
Tesla had never made its own computer chip before it hired an ex-Apple engineer three years ago to design it. Now, Musk boasts the chip is better than any other on the market “by a huge margin.”
Many self-driving car experts believe Tesla’s cars still aren’t close to become fully autonomous.
Musk says laser imaging sensors used by nearly all other autonomous vehicle developers are not needed.
The sensors called Lidar send out light beams that detect objects in the dark and other poor conditions. Many experts consider them essential, including those at Google spinoff Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise Automation.
“Lidar is a fool’s errand,” Musk. “They’re expensive sensors that are unnecessary. It’s like having a whole bunch of appendixes.”
He also says Tesla has a huge advantage over autonomous vehicle competitors because it gathers a massive amount of data in the real world. He says this quarter Tesla will have 500,000 vehicles on the road, each equipped with eight cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar gathering data to help build the company’s neural network.
The network allows vehicles to recognize images, determine what objects are and figure out how to deal with them.
He expects to get regulatory approval for the system toward the end of 2020.
Currently, approval would be required only in California, experts say.
Musk also says Tesla’s neural network is learning how to deal with close lane changes on crowded freeways such as those in Los Angeles. Eventually drivers will be able to choose more aggressive behavior that could run a slight risk of a fender-bender, he says.
Tesla is holding the event two days before it is scheduled to report a first-quarter loss after production and sales of its cars fell below expectations.
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