Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc, the American electric-automobile manufacturing company has recently been the prey of a large degree of scrutiny and scepticism, in particular regarding its failure to bring to completion its promise of delivering “fully self-driving cars” by the end of 2019.
Firstly let’s talk about what exactly Tesla is about and what areas does the firm deals in. Established in 2003, Tesla was founded on the principle that electric cars are superior, faster and more enjoyable than gasoline cars. The company also claims to lay immense emphasis on striding towards a zero-emission future with less reliance on fossil fuels.
One point that has been the target of much consideration and debate with respect to the firm is whether Tesla is merely an “automobile company” or whether it can also be termed as a “tech company”.
While producing automobiles like it’s fellow automobile manufacturing firms, Tesla has a much broader approach alongside carrying out its primary service. The firm boasts of aiming to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
The essence of Tesla’s exclusive infotainment system, it’s user experience as well as it’s autonomous driving features is its software. The firm has executed numerous wireless updates over the years, updates most other automakers throughout the world are yet to familiarise with. The operating systems of Tesla vehicles are regularly upgraded and enhanced by the firm’s staff.
Alongside automobiles, the firm is also engaged in designing various other technologies that include designing traditional solar panels and rooftop solar tiles, developing different types of batteries, building their own charging stations and also creating its own computers with their major components for the Tesla vehicles.
As of now, the firm has several latest projects lined up, some of the most salient being an attempt to ramp up installations of solar tile roofs with international expansion planned later this year as tweeted by Elon Musk recently.
The firm also aims to revolutionize the electric grid with distributed solar power. Basically Tesla is working on a technology for “scalable hierarchical energy distribution grid” in order to remodel how the electric grid distributes solar power. Musk has stated that Tesla Energy will be playing a significant role in Tesla’s future activities. The firm is planning to optimize all solar and energy assets it’s installing at its customers’ homes in order to get as much value for them and the electric grid.
Alongside this, the firm has also announced the arrival of its much-awaited "Model Y".
Model Y is Tesla’s first crossover electric SUV. The Model’s latest Version 10 software update allows the user to stream Netflix or play video games on the massive screen that the car provides within its cabin. Alongside these updates, Tesla has also designed an advanced autopilot feature. This Autopilot system constitutes various features which include emergency braking, speed control, and cruise control. It also has a camera that can cover a 360-degree view as well as automatically maintain distance from other vehicles.
The Model largely follows the Model 3 approach having pretty much all the features applicable in Model 3. For instance, it allows the driver to control anything through their phone, for instance, locking the car, unlocking it, etc. The model also offers a self-driving software update for an extra $7,000. This offers added features like an automatic lane change, automatic parking as well as an advanced navigation system.
“We develop and deploy autonomy at scale. We believe that an approach based on advanced AI for vision and planning, supported by efficient use of inference hardware is the only way to achieve a general solution to full self-driving.” - stated by Tesla on its official site
Unlike its competitors, Tesla’s biggest USP isn’t just producing automobiles but also technologies. Tesla specializes in making use of high tech technologies to deliver luxurious long-range electric automobiles.
“The advantage that Tesla will have is that we’ll have millions of cars in the field with full autonomy capability and no one else will have that,” – Elon Musk
Throughout its journey, AI and Big Data have remained steady partners of the firm. Tesla has taken excellent use of AI and Big Data for expanding its customer base. The firm has made use of existing customer databases for its data analytics using it to comprehend customer requirements and regularly updating their systems accordingly.
In the case of Artificial Intelligence, Tesla has leveraged it to focus on mainly 2 areas: All electric propulsion and autonomous driving.
Initially, Tesla had collaborated with Nvidia to optimize it’s AI integrated chips. Later dropping Nvidia, the company vowed to create its own chips. With these chips, the firm aims to ensure that the cars are able to navigate through not only the freeways but also through local streets as well as traffic signals.
In a recent Hot Chips conference Tesla confirmed that its performance has largely boosted owing to the heavy optimisations in the AI chip. A massive number of transistors have been used - 6 billion -- which constitute the processing circuitry for each of Tesla's chips.
Tesla’s in-house expertise in case of software and battery manufacturing has also helped in giving it an edge over its fellow manufacturers. The firm’s new AI technology aims at setting a milestone for mass-market automation for cars.
The Tesla system consists of two AI chips in order to support it for better road performance. Each of the AI chips makes a separate assessment of the traffic situation for guiding the car accordingly. The assessment of both chips is then matched by the system and followed if the input from both is the same.
In case of any discrepancy, a revaluation is done until a safe decision is taken. With the purpose of properly safeguarding the car against failure, it has surplus power as well as data input feeds so that the car can resume working in case of a single unit failure though it’s spare units. Through these abundant features the firm is ensuring that in case of an unanticipated failure, the car will be well equipped to avoid any accidents.
These AI chips have been optimised to run at 2 GHz and perform 36 trillion operations per second, achieving this level of performance by dismissing all generic functions and channelling the focus on only the important ones. Having taken over 14 months of severe research and involvement the chip was designed with Samsung now manufacturing the processor. The chip will be installed in both the new Tesla cars as well as the old models.
Acknowledged as one of the most aggressive developers in the market, Tesla has always been a firm that has made data collection and analysis the biggest wielded weapon for everything it does. When it came to developing their own chips, they made no exception. Artificial intelligence and data analysis has enabled the company to design autonomous cars with the potential to revolutionise the way we drive cars.
Elon Musk has claimed 2020 to be the year for Tesla to release its full self-driving system built on Autopilot. Let’s see how true truly the firm sticks to its claims. It remains to be seen where leveraging these technologies will take the firm in the future autonomous car market. For more blogs on Analytics, Do read Analytics Steps!
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