According to Lex Fridman, a research scientist at MIT working on human-centered artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, Tesla’s software lead is so big it should worry other automakers and could even slow down the pace of innovation due to the lack of competition.

Fridman is known for his work studying Tesla’s Autopilot and other driver assist and autonomous driving systems.

In a new interview on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, the AI expert explained that he supports a “software first” approach to developing self-driving systems.

He said:

“I am 100% for the software approach. I think we need to let good software engineers lead the way is the way to go. I wish other companies were competing with Tesla on this. On the software side, Tesla is far ahead of everyone else in the automotive sector and that’s one of the problems. Competition is good and I am worried that there’s people way too far behind to actually give Tesla new ideas and outcompete Tesla on software.”

He went on to explain how most cars can’t do over-the-air software updates other than to the infotainment system.

While it’s true that no other automaker has quite the software update capability of Tesla, several automakers, like GM and Porsche, have announced efforts to increasingly expand their capability to send software updates to vehicles.

The AI expert argued that the software is at the foundation of Tesla’s vehicles and it’s not the case for any other major manufacturers.

Here’s the relevant segment of the interview:

Electrek’s Take

I think he makes a good point. Tesla is definitely years ahead of any other automaker when it comes to software and yet, there are still learning and tweaking their approach when it comes to the technology.

Recently, Tesla released a new update that lets owners have more control over when they get new software updates pushed to their cars.

Tesla also introduced software update signatures to protect its vehicles against hacking not that long ago.

Those are all things that Tesla is just now figuring out after years of focusing on vehicle software as a fundamental part of its vehicles.

I understand why Fridman would think that other automakers have a lot to do in order to catch up, but hopefully, they are watching closely and they will learn a lot from Tesla.

But I agree that as long as they play catch up, they are not really pushing Tesla through competition. That said, I am not sure that Tesla really needs that to innovate since they are mostly mission driven.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.


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