Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday said the company is introducing new 'breakthrough' features to its advanced driving program in around four weeks, a move that will see the all-electric car company bring the next generation autopilot system.
The automaker's advanced driving system - autopilot subject for an upgrade is already a major breakthrough distinguishing the American automaker in the automobile market. While delivering Tesla's last quarter earnings, CEO Elon Musk claimed the company has developed the "world’s most advanced computer for autonomous driving" that will be available to customers from September. Information disclosed indicates that the new autopilot features will gravely enhance the usability of its existing features like autosteer, Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC), and Autopark.
Two years ago, Tesla (quietly) recruited former AMD legendary chip architect Jim Keller and it was all clear that the autonomous drive flag bearer has plans to make a big leap towards improving its custom-built autopilot chip. Tesla was deemed to be targeting producing its own silicon after it included a team of chip architects and executives from AMD into its workforce. Musk confirmed it was working on its own AI chip, however, and the team is now led by Pete Bannon after leader Keller’s short tenor in Tesla.
According to Bannon, Tesla has produced the chip and currently running tests. The new autopilot chip will be coming in a new ‘hardware 3’ suite for autonomous driving which would replace the existing unit in the form of a computer in the vehicles produced since October 2016 with Autopilot hardware 2.0 and 2.5.
Tesla ‘hardware 3 suite has increased processing power by 40x
Nvidia GPUs powers the current computer in the Autopilot 2.0 hardware suite which has the capacity to process 200 frames in a second. Musk who believes the newly developed computer is far better than what is available now in the order of magnitude said the upcoming Tesla ‘hardware 3’ suite has the capacity to process 2,000 frames in a second with redundancy.
According to Musk, the new Autopilot hardware was built from scratch to act as a ‘neural network accelerator’ and the system is designed based on the neural net the company’s AI and vision team have been developing. Tesla further disclosed that it will offer the new autopilot system as an upgrade to current owners of Autopilot 2.0 and up through the unit swap.
The new autopilot chip upgrade will be offered for free
Tesla AI chip architect leader Bannon confirmed that the hardware upgrade will be available by next year. And having been advertising Autopilot 2.0 cars, it would be ready to incur charges for the upgrade since it claimed the cars were fully autonomous, and offer the new autopilot system to the car owners for free. However, a software version 9 to improve the current hardware will be available in ‘4 weeks’.