Elon Musk On Autopilot 8.0: “If The Car In Front Of You Suddenly Swerves,” Model S & X Are Ready

Tesla Autopilot

SEP 18 2016 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 17

One of the more advanced features promised by Tesla with Autopilot update 8.0 is the ability to see in front of the vehicle directly in front of the Model S or X.

For example, Autopilot 8.0 promises to see two vehicles ahead by way of what Tesla CEO Elon Musk refers to as “radar echo.” With this technology, the Model S and X can bounce radar off the road and underneath a car in front to “look” further ahead. But there are some limitations.

Musk stated:

“Now if the car in front of you suddenly swerves, we’ve already seen the obstacle in front.”

But that won’t be the case if the car ahead is either very low to the ground or has a restricted glasshouse. When asked by Autocar about the reliability of “radar echo,” Musk stated:

“It would have to be very very low. Even if a car had six inches clearance, it should be able to work.” 

He added that the radar would attempt to “look” through the vehicle’s glasshouse, but that there could be situations when that wouldn’t be possible either.

Self-driving technology appears to move forward in baby steps, with very few 100% guarantees. Sometimes it will work, other times it won’t. This means that the driver should always be prepared to take over the controls. No sleeping behind the wheel just yet.

Probably Can't See Under The McLaren P1 GTR

Probably Can’t See Under The McLaren P1 GTR

Source: Autocar

Categories: Tesla

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17 Comments on "Elon Musk On Autopilot 8.0: “If The Car In Front Of You Suddenly Swerves,” Model S & X Are Ready"

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“He added that the radar would attempt to ‘look’ through the vehicle’s glasshouse, but that there could be situations when that wouldn’t be possible either.” That occurred to me the other day, after I posted a comment to another article on this issue; a comment in which I pointed out that radar can’t “see” around corners. Yeah, okay, so there would be some limited ability of radar to “see” through the back window and windshield of the car in front of the Tesla car. Limited ability. Just how reliable would this be in practice? After all, the radar couldn’t “see” the full vehicle, just the part of it visible through two layers of curved glass, with part of even that restricted portion of the image blocked by people’s heads, headrests, and possibly by objects and cargo in the intervening car. As far as bouncing radar off the road under a car… seriously? Remember, the radar beam would have to bounce off the road, bounce off the vehicle or obstacle beyond, then bounce off the road again, before bouncing back to the radar antenna. And how much is the beam going to be scattered and disrupted by being bounced twice off… Read more »

Plus one

Quoting from the article you linked to:

“Light scattered from the object of interest reaches the virtual mirror of the floor, but so does light scattered from every other object in the vicinity. The success of this technique requires that the two be separated, the ‘signal’ of the hidden object from the background noise of everything else.”

And there’s the rub. This is possible in a controlled indoor setting, essentially a laboratory setting, where all the walls and floors are hard and flat, with good reflective qualities. Outdoors in the real world, where there is grass and dirt, not to mention bushes and trees and all manner of man-made objects, how in the world could any system “tease out” an image from all the random background noise?

Perhaps concrete roads would be flat enough to give an image from a double bounce, if there wasn’t any interference from anything else. But of course there is going to be a lot of interference from a great number of other things, including the underside of the car the system is trying to “see” past. Common sense says asphalt roads (or even worse, brick roads) would be even worse for reflectivity.

“…how in the world could any system “tease out” an image from all the random background noise?”

I would imagine by modulating the signal such that reflected signals of only the correct modulation frequency are picked out from the noise (allowing for Doppler effect, of course).

As to whether Ap V8 will really be able to see 2 cars ahead or not, we will soon find out!

I’d like Tesla to start doing some work on what I call VTNs (vehicle traffic networks) where vehicles can communicate with each other to pass on information about where they are going, how fast they want to go and what the vehicles ahead and behind can see that the vehicles in the middle can’t. All this could be used to huge advantage in a ‘self driving’ scenario to make the traffic flow much smoother, safer and predictable.

So how are those scanning Lidars going to see through 4×4, full cab pickup trucks? Schools busses? Dump trucks?

There is no single sensor that can do it all. Line of sight sensors (camera and Lidar) have the biggest drawbacks.

I don’t think you have to worry about a school bus or dump truck outbraking you.

I’m not suggesting that roof-mounted scanning lidars can see through solid objects. I *am* suggesting they can see things better, and more reliably, than the very short-range radars that are mounted much lower on a Tesla car. It’s simple geometry. An elevated viewing position gives a driver a better view. That’s why so many women drivers prefer driving an SUV or minivan. The elevated seating position gives them a better view of the road. Furthermore, the roof placement of the scanning lidar allows it to see in all directions. Mounted down lower on the car, no one scanner can see in all directions. At best, you’d need four scanners to replace the single one on the roof. Sure, having an active scanner on the roof of your car won’t let your car “see” past the bus or the 18-wheeler. But it just might let the self-driving car “see”, for example, the motorcycle (or low-slung sports car) which is weaving in and out of traffic, and is aiming for the spot in front of the car which your car is trying to pass. Asking a self-driving car to rely on “worm’s eye views” of the road is self-defeating. That placement for… Read more »

How about driving the car yourself? I have none of these things in my VW and yet I manage to drive and avoid accidents.

Does it see a bicycles ?

Time to start driving a van with insulated walls to shield out all the amped up radiation from these systems as they proliferate.

Don’t forget your tin hat !

Presumably you also wear a full-coverage burka, to shield yourself from all that radiation coming from the giant nuclear reactor in the sky which we call the “sun”. /snark

Anyone who’s scientifically literate knows that radar radiation isn’t any more dangerous than the type of radiation we call “sunlight”.

Nothing like IR lasers that you can’t even see burning your retinas.

Heisenberghtbacktotherootsandnuts

“Anyone who’s scientifically literate knows that radar radiation isn’t any more dangerous than the type of radiation we call “sunlight”.”

Let me put it this way: Anyone who’s scientifically literate knows that what you stated is a complete oversimplification…

Version 8.0 is available as of early this (9/19) morning. I shall not be the first to download and install it but I am curious to do so. Please, go ahead and let me know.

If the car in front of you swerves, then you the DRIVER should be ready – not some Autopilot.