Elon Musk Talks Naming Of AutoPilot, SolarCity, US Election, Solar Roof, Fires and More – video

NOV 6 2016 BY JAY COLE 39

It probably would have been easier to list the things Elon Musk hasn’t talked about this week…

Autopilot is named just find thank you (via CNBC/Every Elon Musk Video - YT)

Autopilot is named just find thank you (via CNBC/Every Elon Musk Video – YT)

The Tesla/SpaceX CEO currently finds himself amidst a media blitz surrounding Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City, the company’s Q3 results, Autopilot naming issues, roll-out of new enhanced self-driving new hardware and also SpaceX’s diagnosis on a recent launch pad failure.

To that end, Musk made a rare appearance on CNBC and talked about well…all those things, and more.

Here are the bullet points and responses of the rather lengthy interview (as well as ‘jump to’ timing)

On earlier explosion (watch)/problem solving at SpaceX – finally solved – caused by a breach in the “cryogenic helium system” of the vehicle’s upper oxygen tank, returning to launch pad in December

Less than happy times for SpaceX this past September 1st

Less than happy times for SpaceX this past September 1st

Tesla/Solar City merger – pleasantly surprised by ISS recommendation on the deal (1:05)

On naming of Autopilot: “Would you have gone back and changed the name AutoPilot if you could?” Short answer: no (2:30)

Origins of the naming of Autopilot ie) airplane terminology, Musk says “all aircraft have an autopilot, the autopilot does not mean the plane is self-flying, it is meant as an aid to the pilot, and it enhances safety on a plane” (3:23)

Tesla auto fires (4:15), “Every year there are 200,000 fires, we had three.  Our three fires, which caused no injuries by the way…whereas in the gasoline car fires there were thousands of deaths and horrible injuries.  Our three non-injuries fires got more pressed than the other 200,000 combined.

Favors Clintons

Musk favors Clinton’s environmental policies, feels Trump’s character flaws won’t reflect well on the US

On the US election (5:20):  Musk supports Clinton’s economic policies and calls her environmental policies the “right ones“, but somewhat couches his statement by also saying that the election is “not the finest moment in our democracy in general”.  Musk feels Trump is “not the right guy”, and that he “just doesn’t seem to have the character that reflects well on the United States”.

Solar Roof (6:30):  Recent solar roof tile debut (details) was just the start, more options coming, and it will get to the point where “if you get a normal roof, it will be sort of odd…the roof will last longer than the house”.

Tesla’s need for raising more capital (8:00):  Musk says they don’t need to do it, but it might be a wise decision

Props to the good people at “Every Elon Musk Video” on Youtube for splicing it all together into one concise piece.

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39 Comments on "Elon Musk Talks Naming Of AutoPilot, SolarCity, US Election, Solar Roof, Fires and More – video"

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Musk says “all aircraft have an autopilot, the autopilot does not mean the plane is self-flying, it is meant as an aid to the pilot, and it enhances safety on a plane”

Yes, but how many people who aren’t pilots know that? I rather think the “Otto Pilot” character in the “Airplane!” movie convinced more people that an autopilot is a “set it and forget it” thing that enables the pilot to leave the cockpit unattended, than the number of actual pilots and flying enthusiasts who know better.

Would we still have seen foolish and near-suicidal “Look Ma, no hands!” videos posted to YouTube, showing Model S (non-)drivers engaging Autopilot/AutoSteer (Beta) and then turning their attention to the camera they were talking to, or holding a face-to-face conversation with the cameraman in the back seat, or otherwise completely ignoring the road while AutoSteer was engaged? Probably there would have been some of that, altho I hope fewer of them. Certainly naming the suite of driver assist features “Autopilot” didn’t help reduce irresponsible driving with Autopilot/AutoSteer!

The German government has asked Tesla Motors to rename “autopilot”. I hope Tesla complies, and not just in cars shipped to Germany.

Anyone who is aware that pilots are still present in airliners should be aware that autopilot =/= autonomous

For Musk to compare Tesla AP to plane is ridiculous argument. Plane AP are far more capable when in operation such that it will completely operate without the pilot when activated (even take off and landings possible). Tesla AP still NEEDS human intervention.

Pilots are present, but the plane can fly itself even if the pilot does nothing. That was (or still is?) Asiana airlines policy before flight 214 crash in San Francisco. To quote from Wiki,

“Asiana’s automation policy emphasized the full use of all automation and did not encourage manual flight during line operations.”

The crash happened, because the pilot deactivated some autopilot feature that they shouldn’t have. Can it fly full-auto without pilot? I’m sure it can, and probably do on many (most?) flights, especially 99% of the time that it’s cruising. Same can’t be said about Tesla AP driving without driver 99% of its “cruising”, at least not yet.

Tesla should’ve called it Pilot Assist (PA), not Auto Pilot.


Here, read the FFA’s guide on what autopilot actually does.


It doesn’t do what you think it does.

Rebel44 said:

“Anyone who is aware that pilots are still present in airliners should be aware that autopilot =/= autonomous”

Honestly, until this controversy came up, I thought that the pilot was only necessary for takeoffs, landings, and dealing with emergencies and severe weather. In fact, there have been a lot of questions about whether human pilots are really necessary. I understand that in some newer planes at least, the autopilot is now even capable of takeoffs without supervision.

Landings are still a bit more problematic, altho the Space Shuttle was supposed to be able to land using its autopilot. So far as I know, however, it always landed under (computer assisted) human control.

One big difference between driving and flying is that there is an entire service industry, air traffic controllers, whose job it is to monitor flights and make sure that two planes never get close to each other in the sky. So at least in theory, there’s no need for a pilot to “keep watching the skies” (to quote more than one ’50s science fiction movie). However, in practice that’s not very safe.

Autopilot in airplanes simply isn’t that smart.

For example, you can set autopilot to climb at a certain rate. If you don’t set the altitude limit correctly, the plane will simply continue on the same climb rate forever. It will keep climbing until the air gets so thin that the plane stalls, or until the engine flames out, which ever comes first.

There is a reason why commercial pilots are required to attend annual re-training sessions.

Seen the Otto character, and it’s pretty clear, he’s a very needy piece of technology:

Remember: “Autobahn” and “Automobile” are misnamed and clearly represent a clear and constant threat to stupid people everywhere.

I also speak Jive.

Anon said:

“Remember: ‘Autobahn’ and ‘Automobile’ are misnamed and clearly represent a clear and constant threat to stupid people everywhere.”

LOL! But I disagree on “automobile”: “auto” = self, “mobile” means “capable of moving”. So “automobile” merely means “capable of moving itself”, which is merely another way of saying the vehicle doesn’t need horses to pull it. It says nothing about being able to control itself or not needing a driver.

“I also speak Jive.”

Shirley you can’t be serious.

His name is Surely, not Shirley.

Agreed. Aircraft autopilots let the pilots stop looking through the windows (even while landing in zero visibility), remove their hands from the controls for hours at a time, change course by pressing a button, ask visiting kids about gladiator movies, etc. none of which are possible on Teslas.

You mean not implemented yet..

If EV enthusiasts only used terms that everybody in the US knows, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about here.

When the EPA was first developing the MPG rating system for electric cars, they set up study groups. When consumers were asked whether they knew what a kWh or kW was, they stated that not only did they not know, but they were strongly against learning what kWh or kW means.

As for the fact that stupid people filmed themselves doing stupid things with cars, and put it on youtube, well “stupid driver” gets 3/4 of a million results, and “stupid biker” gets half a million results. There is no lack of stupidity in the world.

How about we support people getting smarter through educating everybody what a kWh, a kW, and autopilot means, instead of dumbing down America?

I agree. Lets push some mental envelopes. 🙂

The problem isn’t stupidity. It’s apathy. People aren’t dumb, they DON’T WANT TO LEARN IT.

The US ran into the same problem with the metric system and the dollar coin. People don’t want to deal with it.

Canada switched both at a similar time but because they forced the issue people bitched about it for a while and eventually they dealt with it.


“The US ran into the same problem with the metric system… People don’t want to deal with it.”

Exactly what I was thinking.

But I disagree with Nix on this: The German government has not called upon Tesla Motors to change the name of “Autopilot” because Americans — or people in general — are too lazy to learn new things.

Ignoring the tendency for governments to write protectionist laws to protect their own industries, the reason the German gov’t may act would be the same as in the US.

Despite stereotypes, human nature is common to humans, whether they live in the US or Germany. They are not some superior master race that is immune from the same shortcomings as Americans.

What do you think that the pilots on a plane do when autopilot is on?

Go get themselves a cup of coffee, flirt with the stewardess, chat with their co-pilot, ask the visiting kid if they’ve ever been in a Turkish prison…

You are joking, right? You can’t seriously believe that. A pilot has to be at the controls at all times during flight. Here is how it actually works:


In case of TL;DR error, just keep this one line from that source in mind:

“always monitor the actions of the FD/autopilot system and be prepared to fly the aircraft manually”

That pretty much says it all.

I agree with you completely. The technology is very cool, but there was a complete misunderstanding about the limits of it. It’s closer to auto-correct than autonomous right now. 😛 It assists the driver but does not replace the driver in any situation. And like auto-correct it is not fool proof.

It’s also good that it has generated news coverage to increase awareness of autopilot’s limits and hopefully this will keep others for needlessly losing their lives in the same way.

I want Tesla and others to keep pursuing it, however. In the long term, the evolution of this technology will save more lives than it will take.

Abusing autopilot and using it wrong in an airplane can cost lives just the same as abusing autopilot in a Tesla.

Here is one example of a flight where the pilots told the autopilot to climb at a rate that was too steep, and where the pilots overrode the autopilot, eventually causing the plane to crash and kill everybody on it.


Maybe the digital intelligence created a machine to run things, a self aware learning machine, to take care of things, and then retired.
So now we are back to Medieval clock-maker God times, yet with a twist, the new clock gets better over time.

Heavy. I agree but I don’t think it will get better over time:)

It has so far.

Great report.
Hitting on all cylinders. The aspects of the SpaceX failure are the most interesting IMO.

..and also the politics which are true and to be expected.

Is this stupid election over yet? I mean I’m 68 and I have seen a lot of them but this one takes the cake as being the most miserable.

The election will be over in two days.

Sadly, the increasing divisiveness in America, the growing tribalism, the growing hostility toward others who don’t share one’s political views, won’t end so quickly.

“Hitting on all cylinders.”

Wow. That’s a colloquialism that won’t last after EVs take over the landscape. Kinda like “hit the gas”.

Yes please ban the name Automobil because it means ir runs it self, no driver needed. I can’t believe the number of idiots out there.

Listening to Musk stammer and stutter his way through a conversation makes me ache.

It makes me ache to be able to see a simultaneous feed of the entire cognitive stream going on behind the curtain.

Got to be so much going on in there.

Got to be a trip.

To you all in the United States, good luck in choosing a new President, and I mean really good luck. WOW what a choice.

Solar Roof, great to see but I would like to see a roofing design which would suit commercial building as well, guess it will come in time.

For me personally whoever wins it won’t matter too much, but what I am concerned about, is the rest of the world and the suffering they will experience.

In Celebration. In 2035 this will be the medal issued as a prize for greatness in technological achievement. The Midas Musk:

Midas Musk


I hope this inside EV comment section gets much quieter tomorrow because every US citizen on this site should go out tomorrow and Vote!

It is time to make a difference and make sure that Trump doesn’t get elected!

And I agree with Elon Musk on most of his points.

Yes, it is kind of too late to change the name “autopilot”. But it is a bad idea to use an airplane term for cars when they are two complete industry and expect most people to understand that correctly when most people are questionable drivers to start with…

Many of us have already voted, because most states offer either early voting or absentee paper ballot voting that you can send in ahead of time.

Besides, typically it is very quick to vote in most place in the US. Under half an hour most of the day, under a hour a the peak. The news reports you hear of 2, 3, 5 or more hours is the newsworthy exception, not the norm.

Plenty of time to vote, and still post.

Yeah, that is true.

I just hope people show up to Vote tomorrow!

We can’t allow this A-hole to be our President. (Bring back coal, are you freaking kidding me?)