Elon Musk’s “AI Day” raises tough questions about Tesla’s technology

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At Tesla’s “Autonomy Day” event in April 2019, CEO Elon Musk said Tesla will have over a million self-driving vehicles by mid-2020 that drivers can “sleep” in while driving.

Tesla failed to achieve that goal, and on Thursday, Musk is hosting another event called “AI Day” to promote his electric car company as a place to work for the engineers he needs to deliver on his promises for autonomous vehicles.

Musk has denied some of his claims for Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) system in recent months, saying that Tesla cars are “not yet fully self-driving.”

U.S. security agencies earlier this week launched an investigation into Tesla’s driver assistance system into accidents in which Tesla cars collided with stationary police cars and fire engines. Two US senators also called on the Fair Trade Commission to investigate Tesla’s claims of “full self-driving” and “autopilot”.

“Investor expectations have been reduced significantly … Tesla has some tougher questions to answer, what’s wrong with the safety probe? And how do they market FSD?” asked Gene Munster, managing partner of the venture capital company Loup Ventures.

“I think the substance of the event will be lost with investors because it’s just a geek festival.”

Contradicting views on AI

In its invitation, Tesla said that at 5:00 p.m. in Palo Alto, California, attendees at the event will “get a glimpse of the future of AI at Tesla outside of our vehicle fleet.” Musk said the event will be streamed live.

Goldman Sachs said it anticipates Tesla will discuss AI applications for solar / storage software and advanced manufacturing in its factories.

Musk has expressed complicated and conflicting views about artificial intelligence. He has touted Tesla’s AI as an industry leader, but also said that artificial intelligence could destroy humanity and pose greater risks than nuclear-armed North Korea.

Tesla struggled to ramp up production of the Model 3 sedan in 2017 and 2018, in part because an ambitious factory automation project ran into difficulties.

“Yes, over-automation at Tesla was a mistake,” Musk tweeted in 2018. “To be precise, my mistake. People are underestimated. “

Dojo

Musk is set to reveal more about Tesla’s “dojo” computing system on Thursday, which he said would process massive amounts of video data it receives from Tesla vehicles on the road.

Musk said the dojo will have Tesla’s own chips and architecture.

“AI Day is really a recruiting day for Tesla. It’s not a marketing event for a vehicle, ”said Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki mutual fund, which owns Tesla shares.

Tesla is competing with other technology companies, notably Google, for engineers who are familiar with artificial intelligence systems, Gerber said.

Musk has a history of promoting technology at flashy events and then postponing launch dates.

Last September, Musk announced an ambitious plan to manufacture its own battery cells that would allow Tesla to sell a car for $ 25,000 (about 18.5 lakhs) in three years. But Musk subsequently canceled the longest range model S Plaid +, which he had said would use the cells.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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