Tesla's AI Revolution: A Glimpse into the Future Through Isaacson's Lens and FSD V12

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla recently launched their new AI training cluster with 10,000 GPUs
Tesla recently launched their new AI training cluster with 10,000 GPUs
NVIDIA

In a recent TIME article adapted from his forthcoming book on Elon Musk, Walter Isaacson gives us a rare look into the innovative strides Tesla is making in the realm of artificial intelligence. Musk's ambitions have consistently set him apart, and Isaacson provides intriguing details, such as Musk's original intent to merge Tesla with OpenAI.

Though the idea didn't pan out, Musk's unyielding vision saw him championing rival AI teams to birth a series of groundbreaking projects. With Tesla vehicles sending back "160 billion frames per day of video" of humans in diverse real-world situations, the scale and scope of the data being harnessed are staggering.

"Tesla's real-world AI is underrated," Musk emphasized, highlighting the company's edge in the AI race. He posed a challenging notion: "Imagine if Tesla and OpenAI had to swap tasks... Who wins? We do."

FSD V12: More than Just Code

The Full Self-Driving v12 live stream from Musk's phone to X has generated more than 45 million views. This wasn't merely an upgrade but a glimpse into a future where technology starts to mimic human intelligence and seamlessly intertwines with it all, thanks to the power of neural nets.

This evolution marks a radical departure for those tracking Tesla's technological trajectory. Musk revealed that they had scrapped over 300,000 lines of hard-coded programming from the car's neural networks to take the helm. The FSD V12's efficacy was laid bare as it tackled construction zones, speed bumps, roundabouts, and traffic with much more ease than we've seen in public releases. Musk encapsulated this transition with his apt exclamation, "This is all nets, baby, nothing but net."

Real-World Challenges & AI Nuances

But it's not just about making the car drive. As Musk demonstrated, it's about making it drive like a human — with all the nuances that come with that. From not jerking abruptly to finding a lane to the smoothness in transitioning from one traffic condition to another, the FSD V12 is designed to observe, learn, and replicate the best of human driving behavior. However, it also underscores the challenges of programming AI for real-world scenarios. As Musk explained, the sparse data on drivers coming to complete stops at stop signs poses an obstacle. With less than 0.5% of drivers fully adhering to this rule, it's a stark reminder that AI is navigating a world where humans often flout regulations.

Looking Ahead: AI & Beyond

Isaacson's insights, combined with the V12 showcase, hint at a future where Tesla isn't just leading the electric vehicle market but is also on the frontlines of the AI revolution. Musk's commitment to AI is evident as he navigates the complexity of running multiple ventures, from SpaceX to Neuralink and the much-anticipated xAI. The next chapter promises even more advancements. Isaacson's book release is tomorrow, September 12th.

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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