I Have No Idea Why This Analyst Thinks Tesla Is Hiding A Secret Autopilot On The Model 3

Illustration for article titled I Have No Idea Why This Analyst Thinks Tesla Is Hiding A Secret Autopilot On The Model 3em/emem/em

There’s a weird tidbit note Morgan Stanley circulating today about Tesla, which announced its quarterly sales are up 69 percent (heh). The financial institution’s analyst Adam Jonas says it’s Morgan Stanley’s belief that Tesla “may be ‘under-selling’ the safety features of the upcoming Model 3.” I’m not sure what he’s talking about.


Here’s the pertinent section (emphasis added):

We believe Tesla may be ‘under-selling’ the safety features of the upcoming Model 3. The Autopilot update showed an image of a vehicle immersed in a field produced by at least 19 sensors. The information collected by these sensors will be analyzed by a liquid cooled NVDIA supercomputer that is 40x more powerful than the original Autopilot system. In our opinion, Tesla may be downplaying the role of the all-new hardware architecture of the Model 3 in terms of improved occupant and pedestrian safety to avoid cannibalization of demand of the other models (i.e. S and X) that do not have the new hardware architecture.


For anyone who has followed along Tesla’s ramp-up to producing the Model 3, the company said last fall that all current Tesla models produced at its Fremont, California factory will come equipped with the same updated hardware. Here’s what Tesla said in a blog post at the time:

We are excited to announce that, as of today, all Tesla vehicles produced in our factory – including Model 3 – will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. Eight surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength, capable of seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.

To make sense of all of this data, a new onboard computer with more than 40 times the computing power of the previous generation runs the new Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software.

Sounds like what Jonas is talking about—except it pertains to all of Tesla’s models. And there doesn’t appear to be any explicit statement previously made by Tesla or founder Elon Musk to differentiate the safety capabilities between the Model 3 and the Model S or X. When reached, a spokesperson had no idea what Jonas was talking about. It doesn’t seem to make much sense, either, when you consider that Musk’s stated goal is to sell 500,000 vehicles by 2018.

There’s plenty of questions to ask about Tesla in the coming months as it prepares to launch production about the Model 3. This just doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to that target.


But who knows, maybe there’s a safety Easter egg that Musk is hanging onto, and Morgan Stanley somehow got word of it ahead of time. Until then, this note really makes no sense.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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Liquid cooled Nvidia super computer? OK, I haven’t really been following the model 3 development that close, but it was my understanding that Nvidia was contributing a SoC that powered the infotainment system, a Tegra chip that is similar to (or same as) the X1 finger in the Shield and Nintendo switch?