Tesla’s Autopilot system and Full Self-Driving Beta technology are arguably the most talked-about semi-autonomous tech features on the market today. However, while the talk in the Tesla community seems to be mostly positive, that's not the case elsewhere, and this is especially true when it comes to rivals, which is to be expected.
Chris Urmson, CEO of Aurora, has years of experience with self-driving tech. Aurora is a software company focusing on autonomous technology. Urmson has been working on related technology for about 15 years, and he co-founded Aurora in 2017 after leaving Google's self-driving car project in 2016. Urmson actually worked on the code for Google's self-driving software prior to his departure.
In the past, Tesla claimed that Urmson, along with former Tesla Autopilot director Sterling Anderson, poached Tesla employees for a competing autonomous tech company. Aurora settled the lawsuit by paying Tesla $100,000.
Interestingly, while Urmson admitted that Tesla is doing very impressive work, he says his work in 2010 was just as impressive, if not better. Many folks in the field aren't on board with Tesla's approach to autonomous driving. This is because Tesla is using artificial intelligence, as well as choosing owners to test the technology in real-time on public roads.
While Urmson admits that Tesla's approach is compelling, he doesn't believe that self-driving fleets or Robotaxis will become a reality. This is especially true in reference to CEO Elon Musk's past and current timeline related to the launch of such a program. Musk has said Tesla will have one million Robotaxis on the road by the end of 2021. Urmson said in an interview with Bloomberg:
“It’s just not going to happen. It’s technically very impressive what they’ve done, but we were doing better in 2010.”
There's plenty of debate surrounding Tesla's Full Self-Driving Beta technology. However, other companies are going about it in a completely different way, and while they're also making notable progress, we have no way of knowing which approach will prove more successful. While Urmson says Aurora was ahead of Tesla over 10 years ago, we have no proof of that.
At any rate, Urmson's claims that self-driving fleets won't happen could prove true, at least for some time. Tesla has talked about the Robotaxis for years, and the project has yet to materialize. Musk continues to report on how difficult the process has been. However, it seems other companies aren't even considering launching self-driving taxis for wide use on public roads in the near future, though they are testing such ideas in select, mapped, and geofenced areas.
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