Tesla may be building out a feature for vehicle-to-vehicle communication
Tesla recently wrapped up its 2022 annual shareholders meeting, and CEO Elon Musk hinted at a potentially exciting feature coming to the fleet: vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
Towards the end of the shareholders’ meeting, a gentleman in the audience mentioned how aircrafts use a system called Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS). He elaborated on how ACAS relays an aircraft’s telemetry to prevent a collision.
“Sometimes too much telemetry,” Musk adds and laughs, assumingly referencing the Twitter account that tracks his private jet.
“Do you see Teslas communicating with one another and Dojo turning into some kind of air traffic control for Tesla supply chains and Robotaxi?” adds the gentleman.
Musk answered by saying he hasn’t thought about that before, which is interesting. He added that the goal with Dojo is to be the de facto computer for training the neural net with videos.
“Oh. That’s an interesting idea. I haven’t thought about that,” Musk responds. “Right now our goal with Dojo is to be really good at video training. We have probably the fourth or approaching the third, most powerful computing center in the world for AI training. Our first goal with Dojo is to make it competitive and be more effective at neural net training than a whole bunch of GPUs. We might get there… soonish.”
Musk also added that Dojo is built “from the ground up” to train AI using videos, and building such a computer has never been done before.
This question got Musk’s mind going. He paused for a moment and said there may be some difficulties in getting Teslas to communicate with one another - and it won’t be needed with Full Self-Driving.
“There will be some merits for Teslas to communicate [with] each other, but that won’t be needed for Full Self-Driving at all,” Musk responds. “But for a long time the vast majority of cars will be manually driven, so the value of Tesla-to-Tesla communication is not that high, except for, perhaps, communicating traffic issues, accidents, potholes, and road closures. A Tesla ahead of you has seen a road closure and you get that real-time update to your car so you don’t get stuck in the road closure situation. That’s the stuff that we are working on right now.”
Elon Musk's Answer
In January of 2022, Twitter user and Tesla enthusiast @BLKMDL3 tweeted at Musk asking about this type of feature. “Hey @elonmusk, can we get the air suspension in Model S/X to automatically raise quickly if the car detects a dip in the road ahead and then remember the location for next time?” BLKMDL3 writes. “Would be an awesome feature to have!”
Musk responded with, “Yeah.”
Hey @elonmusk, can we get the air suspension in Model S/X to automatically raise quickly if the car detects a dip in the road ahead and then remember the location for next time? Would be an awesome feature to have!
BLKMDL3’s tweet received quite a bit of attention.
Tesla has recently rolled out updates to improve a vehicle’s ability to raise and lower its suspension when arriving at a specific location. This is so the vehicle doesn’t scuff the pavement and cause damage to its underbody.
Since Musk stated that he hasn’t thought about vehicle-to-vehicle communication or how it would be done, we don’t anticipate this feature rolling out anytime soon. However, we can hope that it gets added to the pipeline of upcoming features due to its seemingly positive reception and want for it. This could also increase the safety of Tesla’s vehicles, even though they’re already the safest cars on the road.
It would be nice for vehicles within a 5-10 mile radius to notify one another of a construction zone, or accident, similar to Waze. This would allow the vehicle to reroute to a more efficient route or handle the situation accordingly. Going a step further, it would be exceptionally cool to see snapshots or videos of the upcoming situation by seeing a “hotspot” in maps, similar to how Snapchat shows hotspots, that are recorded via the vehicle’s cameras to more accurately prepare for it. But this may open a can of worms in regards to privacy.
Turning Tesla’s fleet into a mobile social network may go against Musk’s vision. He’s stated before that any user input in the vehicle should be considered an error, so having an interactive feature such as this may not be in Tesla’s deck of cards.
Elon Musk started Tesla's AI Day 2022 by saying, "I want to set some expectations with respect to our Optimus Robot," just before the doors opened behind him. A robot walked out, waved at the audience, and did a little dance. Admittedly a humble beginning, he explained, "the Robot can actually do a lot more than what we just showed you. We just didn't want it to fall on its face." Musk's vision for the Tesla Robot, "Optimus is going to be incredible in five years, ten years mind-blowing." The CEO said other technologies that have changed the world have plateaued; the Robot is just starting.
Tesla's CEO envisions Optimus eventually being like Commander Data, the android from Star Trek the Next Generation, except it "would be programmed to be less robot-like and more friendly." Undoubtedly there is a long way to go to achieve what Doctor Noonien Soong created in Star Trek TNG. What was demonstrated onstage wasn't at that level, but several videos throughout the presentation highlighted what the Robot is capable of at its very early stage in development. The audience watched the Robot pick up boxes, deliver packages, water plants and work at a station at the Tesla factory in Fremont.
Development over 8 Months
The breakdown of some of the systems of the Tesla Robot
Tesla (Edited by Not a Tesla App)
The first Robot to take the stage at AI Day was not Optimus, but Bumble C, another acknowledgement to The Transformers, as Bumble Bee played a significant role in that franchise. However, Bumble C is far less advanced than Optimus, who did appear later but was on a cart.
Several Tesla engineers took turns on the microphone describing some of the most complex elements of the project that was first announced one year ago. Perhaps the best description of the project was the company moving from building a robot on wheels to a robot on legs. However, that may be oversimplifying. For example, the car has two motors, and the Robot has 28 actuators.
Overall Design and Battery Life
Tesla's brightest demonstrated how the production has come to life over the past eight months. It seems this group of computer masterminds had to become anatomist experts as Tesla took hints from the human body to create a humanoid robot. That is an essential factor in creating Optimus. Everything people interact with is made usable by a human, with two legs, two arms, ten fingers etc. If the Robot differed from what the world is already designed for, everything would have to change. However, recreating the human body and its countless movements would take far too long, so Tesla has stripped it down to less than 30 core movements, not including the hand.
Like the human torso contains the heart, the Robot's chest holds the battery. It's projected that a single charge would provide enough for a full day's work with a 2.3-kilowatt-hour battery. All the battery electronics are integrated into a single printed circuit board within the pack. That technology keeps charge management and power distribution all in one place. Tesla used lessons learned from vehicle and energy production to create the battery allowing for streamlined manufacturing and simple and effective cooling methods.
Tesla showed what the Robot sees, and it looked very familiar. That's because the neural networks are pulling directly from Autopilot. Training data had to be collected to show indoor settings and other products not used with the car. Engineers have trained neural networks to identify high-frequency features and key points within the Robot's camera streams, such as a charging station. Tesla has also been using the Autopilot simulator but has integrated it for use with the Robot programming.
Tesla shows off what the Optimus robot sees
Tesla (Edited by Not a Tesla App)
The torso also contains the centralized computer that Tesla says will do everything a human brain does, such as processing vision data, making split-second decisions based on multi-sensory inputs and supporting communications. In addition, the Robot is equipped with wireless connectivity and audio support. Yes, the Robot is going to have conversations, "we really want to have fun, be utilitarian and also be a friend and hang out with you," said Musk.
Motors Mimic Joints
The 28 actuators throughout the Robot's frame are placed where many joints are in the human body. Just one of those actuators was shown lifting a half-tonne nine-foot concert grand piano. There have been thousands of test models run to show how each motor works with the other and how to effectively operate the most relevant actuators for a task. Even the act of walking takes several calculations that the Robot must make in real-time, not only to perform but also appear natural. The robots will be programmed with a locomotion code; the desired path goes to the locomotion planner, which uses trajectories to state estimations, very similar to the human vestibular system.
Human hands can move 300 degrees per second and have tens of thousands of tactile sensors. Hands can manipulate anything in our daily lives, from bulky, heavy items to something delicate. Now Tesla is recreating that with Optimus. Six actuators and 11 degrees of freedom are incorporated into the robot hand. It has an in-hand controller that drives the fingers and receives sensory feedback. The fingers have metallic tendons to allow for flexibility and strength. The hands are being created to allow for a precision grip of small parts and tools.
Responsible Robot Safety
Musk wanted to start AI day with the epic opening scene from Terminator when a robot crushed a skull. He has heard the fears and people warning, "don't go down the terminator path," but the CEO said safety is a top priority. There are safeguards in place, including designs for a localized control ROM that would not be connected to the internet that can turn the Robot off. He sees this as a stop button or remote control.
Musk said the development of Optimus may broaden Tesla's mission statement to include "making the future awesome." He believes the potential is not recognized by most, and it "really boggles the mind." Musk said, "this means a future of abundance. There is no poverty. You can have whatever you want in terms of products and services. It really is a fundamental transformation of civilization as we know it." All of this at a price predicted to be less than $20,000 USD.
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