The recent Quarter 3 conference call held by Mobileye yielded some interesting new information, including some interesting comments about the company’s relationship with Tesla.
On that count, it was apparently stated (tip of the hat here to “Cosmacelf” on the Tesla Motors Club forum for covering the call) that Tesla is essentially unique amongst auto manufacturers for its willingness to push the company’s system faster, and truly to its limits.
Also very noteworthy was the comment that “True Autopilot” would begin its (slow) rollout next year — and that it will require the integration of an 8-camera suite, radar + sonar systems, and 5 EyeQ3 chips. The rollout of autopilot software will apparently take several years to be completed.
Here’s more from the recent conference call, via Cosmacelf:
Mobileye has 2 production agreements for semi-autonomous driving for 2016 (presumably one is Tesla), another manufacturer coming on line in 2017 and one more in 2018.
Tesla’s current self learning capability is Tesla specific. Mobileye is not involved in this at all. Mobileye gets its training data when OEMs do validation testing. I guess the big automakers do a lot of validation testing and Mobileye thinks this is sufficient for their purposes (they pretty much dismissed the Tesla fleet info and said that the validation data set was huge).
My comments based on this and Elon’s Autopilot conference call: It is clear that Tesla isn’t just taking what Mobileye is giving them. According to Elon, they have augmented the base Mobileye system with high resolution GPS maps, driver assisted learning, fleet learning, and rapid updates. The high resolution GPS maps, along with driver input, allows the car to behave correctly in ambiguous situations. If Mobileye technology is confused about what is going on in a particular area, it will always be confused in that area (barring very slowly changing model updates which may come out once a year (my estimate)). So Tesla tracks what the human does in that area, averaged over the fleet. If the Mobileye model says to follow the right lane marker at a certain GPS co-ordinate and exit the freeway, while the driver grabs the wheel and keeps the car on the freeway, then the Tesla software learns that behavior for next time and additionally uploads that info for fleet learning. According to Elon, fleet learning updates could occur weekly (presumably more often in the heavier traveled areas).
Certainly an interesting subject to speculate on. I’m very curious myself to see how Tesla’s autonomous system compares to the Mobileye systems put into use by other automakers over the coming years. As noted above, Tesla does seem to have covered all of the bases and come up with a good plan of action to deliver a particularly effective autonomous system….
On that note, it’s probably worth mentioning here that the Quarter 3 conference call also revealed that Mobileye’s Q3 2015 revenue ($70.6 million) was 104% higher than Q3 2014’s ($34.7 million).