The Tesla CEO is very hands-on. And off!
Tesla CEO Elon Musk takes a very hands-on approach to running the electric vehicle manufacturer. From acting as product architect to spending time on the assembly line torquing bolts, his fingerprints are literally smudged across every part of the company. We're not surprised, then, to learn of the depth of his involvement with the development of the company's Autopilot feature: a suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that control a vehicle with oversight from the driver. According to The Information, the entrepreneur drives a Model S equipped with a special development version of the software that he can use to judge the latest changes and suggest new ones.
And he doesn't just drive the car and make suggestions, though. He, at times, actually holds the weekly meeting with the Autopilot team's senior managers — there are about a dozen of them and our source article discusses their individual roles — from behind the wheel. While interacting with the system, he can bring up any flaws or give feedback in real time about slight setting changes. You see, besides having the latest features, his development version of the software allows him to be able to tweak how "aggressive" the car may react in certain situations.
For instance, he has more latitude over the space between his car and the one it's following, and can even have the system change lanes in tighter situations. This allows him to experience bugs that normal Autopilot users would never encounter. It's this flexibility, they say, that came into play when his experiences led to the team have the feature "...steer away from big vehicles, such as trucks, that may unintentionally cross into the Tesla vehicle’s lane as they drive alongside it."
Besides talking about the Autopilot team and Musk's deep involvement, The Information also gives us a heads up about upcoming improvements to the system. According to the publication, we might see Autopilot equipped cars recognize stop signs and traffic lights and stop accordingly sometime next year. They may even begin taking right turns on their own. As always, the progress of this technology should be interesting to watch as it progresses to eventual full self-driving capability.
Source: The Information