Tesla AI Day 2021 Event Recap

By Henry Farkas

Tesla AI day was last night and most of the event was an in-depth look at how Tesla is solving FSD and all the problems their solving and methods they're using. It definitely wasn't aimed at at the casual consumer.

Tesla AI Day 2021

There was some interesting video where they showed how the integration of all the cameras could predict where other traffic is located, and do it better than the combination of a few cameras combined with radar. We had to take their word for it that the camera integration did a better job. It did look that way on the computer views. Elon also pointed out that they use the Autopilot software not only to drive the car but to predict where the other cars on the road are likely to be in the next few seconds.

Later in the show, things got more interesting. They brought out a person dressed like a robot who danced around a bit. Elon came out again and showed a plan for a human-shaped Tesla robot. He admitted that the one that had danced around the stage wasn't the actual robot, but said that's what the Tesla robot would look like. The purpose of the robot is to perform chores that humans might find boring, repetitive, or dangerous.

Elon mentioned that Teslas are basically semi-sentient robots on wheels. He said that the human-shaped Tesla bot would come out next year. The robots will be friendly and will be able to navigate a world built for humans. They will be five feet eight inches tall and weigh 125 pounds, The face will be a computer screen. The hands will look like human hands and have five fingers. The Tesla bot will be able to walk at five miles/hour. That's faster than normal human walking speed, but most people can run faster than that.

Elon casually mentioned that most people could run away from it and most likely overpower it. He hoped it wouldn't be necessary, but, he said, “You never know.”

So then, he said that the robots would be able to shop for people, do chores around the house, and do repetitive jobs in the workplace. He admitted that having robots available to do jobs in the workplace would be a problem unless there was a universal basic income. That got a cheer from the audience. So I guess there were lots of Andrew Yang fans in the audience.

Then the question period started. The first question was asked of Musk, did he plan to make any of his software open-source? He said that creating it cost too much to just give it away, but he'd be willing to license it to other car companies.

Another interesting question was about whether audible cues would be incorporated into the FSD computer. Elon admitted that it would be important for a fully autonomous car to hear sirens from emergency vehicles, and he said that if someone was yelling at the car from the outside, a fully autonomous car should be able to understand what was being said. It'll be interesting how Tesla plans to tackle this problem for vehicles without external microphones.

Later, someone asked if FSD would work in other countries. Elon said that they were focusing first on the US, but the point was made that driving is very similar in other countries. Elon mentioned that they use training data from fifty countries and that the prime directive of FSD is, “Don't crash.” And that's true in every country. He says that right now, the car is pretty good at not crashing. Clearly, pretty good is not good enough since the drivers still need to pay attention, but the FSD is programmed to not crash into anything on the highway even if it's something it doesn't recognize like a UFO that just crashed on the highway.

I have to mention, here, an experience I had while FSD was engaged. I was driving along a road at night, and I saw a rock in the middle of the road. It was clear that the car didn't see it, and I had to quickly steer around it because it was too late to stop by the time the rock appeared in my headlights. Now I don't have the beta version of FSD, but it's clear Tesla still has some work to do here.

Later, someone asked what will happen with FSD once hardware 4 gets into production. Elon said that hardware 3 will be able to drive much better than any human driver once the software is finished. He says that hardware 4 will come out with the Cybertruck, and it will be able to drive better than hardware 3, but that doesn't mean that hardware 3 is unable to drive. He pointed out that not every regular human driver is the best driver on the road, but that doesn't mean that the regular driver isn't allowed to drive.

An amusing question got asked about whether the car could be spoofed by a picture. Elon suggested that he doesn't see many paintings of tunnels on rock walls as in Wiley E. Coyote cartoons. He mentioned that he has a T-shirt with a stop sign on the front. He says that if someone flashes a Tesla with such a T-shirt, the car will stop, but that Tesla will soon train edge cases like these and the car will learn what is a real stop sign versus a fake one.

Toward the end, someone asked whether we should worry that AI will have its own priorities that might be different from the priorities of the owners of the artificially intelligent robots. Elon said that right now, we're not anywhere near the kind of self-aware super-intelligent robots that people worry about. A car may be able to drive better than most humans. A robot may be able to do boring, repetitive or dangerous activities. That doesn't mean that cars and robots might rise up and rebel against humans. He's going to program his cars and his robots to be “Unequivocally good.”

Elon's final comment about cars was that eventually, cars will drive themselves just like elevators now drive themselves. You get in an elevator, press a button, and it takes you where you want to go. There aren't elevator operators anymore. Eventually, self-driving cars will be the norm. He says that there will still be a few gasoline cars and cars that need to be driven by a human being, just like now, there are still a few horses. But non-self-driving cars will be rare.

You can view the full Tesla AI Day event below:

Henry Farkas is a retired country doctor. He bought his Tesla Model 3 in the middle of the pandemic.

Mysterious Covered Up Model 3 Raises Questions

By Kevin Armstrong
Several covered-up Model 3s have been found over the past of days
Several covered-up Model 3s have been found over the past of days
@omg_tesla & CloudWalking

If it isn’t the worst-looking LeBra ever made, then what is it? This oddly covered-up Model 3 appeared in the wild just days after Reuters reported Tesla was revamping the popular car. The plot thickens as Teslarati reports the license plates to indicate the vehicle is from Tesla. But what is the biggest secret under the horribly fitting covers?

Twitter user @omg_tesla spotted the car in a parking garage in Santa Cruz, California. Twitter users filled the replies with a lot of speculation. But of interest, the cabin of the car is wide open and visible. This eliminates a lot of conjecture that this is a revamped version. There is a belief the company is trying to cut costs to get the Model 3 under $55,000 to qualify for the US tax incentive in 2023. However, some cost savings will be found in the Model 3’s interior.

That would lead us to believe that the only secret things on this car are some design changes in the front and back. However, on close examination, it doesn’t appear to be different than the current Model 3. The headlights look the same if you follow the lining and the taillights look identical to what is in production as well.

Reddit user CloudWalking, found a different Model 3 similarly covered up a couple of days later.

Twitter user @Aiaddict1, who's a former Tesla employee, tweeted: Tesla policy requires employees who use certain eng fleet cars in public to always use a car cover when parked in public if the vehicle is equipped with hardware not known or available to the public. I know this as I used to drive the eng fleet prototypes. This looks to be one.

Whatever is under those odd covers remains a mystery. Reuters reported that the Tesla revamp, called Project Highland, would start to roll off production lines in the third quarter of 2023. They also quoted Ed Kim, president of AutoPacific Group, who said, “consumers still tend to equate visual changes with newness. Tesla knows visually tangible changes are in order. The upcoming changes that potential customers can see and feel will be very important in ensuring that EV customers still have Tesla at the top of their minds as truly excellent alternatives to Tesla are starting to flood the market.”

Nevertheless, Twitter "detectives" joked that this is the newest Tesla paint protection, bug screen or perhaps automotive underwear. Personally, I think if the covers were off, it would’ve drawn far less attention as there are a lot of Teslas in California, but none sporting these covers.

It's not clear what Tesla is testing with these vehicles, although it doesn't appear to be related to the "revamp" of the Model 3. However, it very likely includes some sort of changes that haven't been publicly announced yet.

Two Door Cybertruck is Unlikely Now, But May be on the Radar

By Kevin Armstrong
A sketch of a two-door Cybertruck can be found at the Peterson Automotive Museum
A sketch of a two-door Cybertruck can be found at the Peterson Automotive Museum
MissJilianne/Twitter

The Tesla crowd of enthusiasts has eyes everywhere. Twitter user @MissJilianne caused quite a stir after visiting the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which recently opened a new Tesla exhibit. The Model S Plaid owner and FSD Beta tester posted a few pictures of her visit, including some artwork at the Cybertruck display.

The artistic design shows the Cybertruck in a two-door version. Miss Jilianne asks: Are we not going to talk about the beautiful artwork of a two door Cybertruck displayed at the @Petersen_Museum Tesla exhibit?

Her tweet generated discussion on social platforms and Tesla blogs, and it had mixed reactions. @KounisTou tweeted: It's not only that, but it has a totally different, dare I say better looking? A-pillar design with a wraparound windshield like early Semi prototype. Looks great. Except maybe that it looks a bit too much like a Lamborghini.

That may be the biggest clue to this spectacular piece of art. Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla's chief designer, is a huge fan of the “wedge” design. He grew up with Lamborghini Countach posters on his wall. Other responses to the picture believe it is the origin of the piece of art. It is likely an early sketch of what the Cybertruck could look like, and there were likely several. Given von Holzhausen’s love for the Countach, this is quite likely an early concept he was sketching out.

Elon Musk has publicly stated his support for a smaller truck. On November 24, 2019, he tweeted: Long term, it probably makes sense to build a smaller Cybertruck too.

However, the four-door version is due in 2023. CNBC interviewed von Holzhausen right in front of the Cybertruck. He stated, “Cybertruck will look, for all intents and purposes, just like the one behind us, maybe slightly smaller, a few percentages, but in general, this is what the truck will look like.”

Still, the designer did say something else during that interview that leaves the door open for a possible two-door Cybertruck. The creative mind behind the Model S, 3, X, Y, Semi and Cybertruck was asked to pick a favorite. His response was, "My favorite one is the one that is coming. I can't talk about (it).”

For a man that loves sports cars, it was believed that he was referring to the second-generation Roadster. Maybe he is referring to a smaller Cybertruck that looks a lot like those wedge cars that inspired him to become a car designer.

Tesla has a history of providing sketches to early reservation holders of their vehicles. It waits to be seen whether Tesla will do the same for the Cybertruck when deliveries start next year.

Below you'll find other sketches that Tesla provided to Model S, 3 and X reservation holders.

Model S Sketch

An early sketch of the Model S that was given to owners
An early sketch of the Model S that was given to owners
Electrek

Model 3 Sketch

A sketch of the Model 3 was given to owners who reserved the vehicle on the first night
A sketch of the Model 3 was given to owners who reserved the vehicle on the first night
Electrek

Model X Sketch

An early sketch of the Model X that was initially given to owners of the Model X
An early sketch of the Model X that was initially given to owners of the Model X
Not a Tesla App

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