Tesla Autopilot will eventually be able to avoid potholes on the road, according to CEO Elon Musk as the automaker releases more advanced Autopilot updates.
Yesterday, I logged in over 300 km (186 miles) of driving on the latest Autopilot update available in my Model 3.
The system performed extremely well, autonomously steering on the highway and adapting the speed to the traffic around the electric car.
With one hand on the steering wheel applying light pressure, Autopilot controlled the vehicle from point A to B almost without any input from me.
The only times I had to take over was to avoid large potholes, which are unfortunately a plague in Quebec, especially during this time of the year.
I highlighted the issue in a tweet after the first leg of my road trip (via Twitter):
— Fred Lambert (@FredericLambert) April 6, 2019
Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn’t reply, but a few hours later he did answer the same question – confirming that Tesla plans to develop Autopilot to be able to avoid certain potholes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 7, 2019
The announcement comes after Tesla released new ‘more seamless’ Navigate on Autopilot feature which virtually enables autonomous driving on the highway without inputs from the driver, but it still requires constant monitoring of the system.
Along with the new feature, Tesla updated the neural net powering Autopilot on the latest update, which Musk described as “epic”.
More features are coming to the wider fleet including Enhanced Summon.
This is a big deal because Tesla is becoming increasingly closer to having a solid foundation for a vision-based autonomous driving system, but it is going to need to be able to handle corner cases.
Some potholes can be very dangerous and that’s especially true in places where the temperatures changes can be quite drastic, like in the northeast, or places where infrastructure projects have been embroiled in corruption for decades, like in Canada.
My Autopilot drive from Montreal to Shawinigan and back yesterday was technically flawless aside from detecting potholes that I felt I needed badly to avoid for the sake of my tires and even potentially the danger of an accident in some cases.
As of now, human drivers are clearly better equipped to detect and avoid those, which is a great reminder that despite the great improvements that we are seeing with Tesla’s Autopilot system, it is still important to remain vigilant and be ready to take control at all time.
That said, I am glad that pothole detection and avoidance is on Tesla’s radar – pun intended.
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