Tesla took an extra two days to prep a video of their new self-driving tech navigating a “complex urban environment,” to prove how good it is. What we got doesn’t exactly match up.
Here’s Elon’s tweet just so we’re all on the same page:
And here’s the video Tesla put out so you can see what I mean:
Now, going off what Elon said, I expected this car to really be tackling some difficult challenges for current self-driving tech. Instead what I saw was some pretty best-case scenario stuff from a California fantasy land.
The weather is crystal clear. The road is perfectly smooth. The lane lines are fresh and completely undisturbed. Highway merges are simple and signs are extraordinarily legible.
These sorts of conditions might exist in Palo Alto, where the video was shot, but the rest of the country has to deal with cracked pavement, potholes, blotchy lane lines if any at all, gravel, sleet, slush, rain, fog, confusing old merges, obscured signs, and basically just about everything that trips up current Teslas in autonomous mode. This video did nothing to show that Tesla had improved any of that.
And that’s fine! Tesla’s autopilot only works in certain conditions and on certain well-defined roads as it is. I’ve done many hundreds of miles in one, and the car communicates very clearly to you when it can’t read the crinkly Detroit roads or rain-soaked highways ahead of it and politely requests you take back the steering wheel.
But this video did nothing to show that Tesla had moved forward from there. Tesla has admitted that this is still under development, but if this is the very limit of what a Tesla is capable of right now, we still have a long way before real ‘self-driving’ tech is in our driveways.