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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Elon Musk Reportedly Visited Mobileye to Test Tech for Next Gen Tesla Autopilot

As reported by electrekA new report published today by Israel’s Globes suggests that Elon Musk visited Israel-based tech firm Mobileye to test a new system for the next generation Tesla Autopilot.

According to Globes, Musk visited Mobileye’s Israel operations earlier this month for a “demonstration of several breakthrough developments by Mobileye in [automated driving technology] installed on a trial Tesla Model S vehicle.”

The report suggests that Mobileye is testing its automated driving technology in two Tesla Model S test vehicles. Independently, a Model S being tested with a fully-autonomous hardware suite was recently spotted in California.

Mobileye is already a supplier in Tesla’s Autopilot program and last year the automaker committed to keep using the firm’s technologyin future iterations of its self-driving and assisted-driving programs.

The Globes described the tech in the demo Musk reportedly witnessed:
“Among the technologies are a system called DNN (digital neural network), which enables the vehicle to “learn” by gathering data on the move, and even to identify different kinds of road surface; free-space, which enables the automatic vehicle’s systems to identify areas without defined objects such as hard shoulders of roads, sidewalks, and so on, and avoid collisions and deviations from the road; a “holistic path prediction”, which enables a vehicle to select the correct path – on an open road, for example – even when there are no visual hints in the environment; and a sign identification system that can identify over 1,000 signs and road markings in use around the world.”
The current version of Tesla’s Autopilot is believed to already have self-learning capacity, similar to the “DNN” described above, built on top of Mobileye’s system. Tesla also recently hired a few machine learning experts to improve its system.

Tesla is expected to release more features through over-the-air updates utilizing the same hardware, but the system, which consists of a forward-looking camera, a radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors, is limited and not expected to achieve fully autonomous driving.

Last year, Mobileye’s CEO Ziv Aviram confirmed that his company is working a new system which he described as a  “more sophisticated” and that could allow fully autonomous driving. He also confirmed that one OEM is already implementing it in a vehicle:
“Today we are already preparing with one of the OEM, a first vehicle based on 8 cameras, one radar and ultrasonic around the vehicle. So this is much wider implementation of the first introduction of semi-autonomous driving and the trifocal is going to be here as we planned, but additional 4 cameras around the vehicle and one camera looking back. The system will run on 5 EyeQ3 chips and all of them will be connected.”
Aviram didn’t disclose which automaker is testing the system, but he said during a recent conference that Tesla is willing to push the envelope “faster and more aggressively than any other OEM”. He also hinted that the new system could find its way into a commercial product within a year and we know that Tesla has been testing a similar hardware suite with more cameras.

Both Musk and Aviram agree that a fully autonomous system could be developed using only camera sensors and radar, without the need for LiDAR technology.