🚘 Tesla launches full self-driving beta and Waymo offers driverless taxi

🚘 Tesla launches full self-driving beta and Waymo offers driverless taxi

Self-driving cars are taking a step forward with Tesla launching a beta test of the significant upgrade of their autopilot and Google's autonomous driving company, Waymo, offering driverless taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mathias Sundin
Mathias Sundin

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Tesla has been working on a big upgrade of its autopilot software - Full Self-Driving, FSD - and is now starting to roll that out, starting next week. First to a limited group of experts and careful drivers, according to Elon Musk.

Almost all Tesla vehicles in traffic collect data when they are driven around. That data is uploaded to Tesla and used to train and develop the autopilot using machine learning.

"We had to do a fundamental rewrite of the entire Autopilot software stack," Musk said at Battery Day. "The sophistication of the neural net of the car and the overall logic of the car is improved dramatically."

Waymo and Tesla have different approaches

Waymo has taken a bit different approach, relying more on data simulations than Tesla does. Waymo is also more localized with Phoenix, Arizona, being their main testing ground. That means they get detailed knowledge of that area, while Tesla is collecting loads more data from big parts of the world.

Which approach that turns out most successful remains to be seen.

Now Waymo re-starts and expands its driverless taxi in Phoenix.

Google started the self-driving revolution

Google has been working on self-driving cars for more than ten years, and was the company that started the current evolution. A Stanford team competing in DARPA's self-driving competition suddenly got a surprise visitor.

"One day, Google Founder, Larry Page suddenly knocked on the door of Sebastian Thrun's office. He had heard that they would compete in the competition and had countless questions about how close a self-driving car was to becoming a reality. Both he and his co-founder, Sergey Brin intended to come and watch the competition. Little did Thrun know then that that visit would change his life."

Google ended up sponsoring the Stanford team that won the second edition of DARPA's challenge, and later that team was recruited to Google to lead their self-driving effort. A few years after the project was spun out of Google and is now Waymo.

No car reached the finish line in DARPA's first competition. This car, Sandstorm, got stuck with a burning tire after 11 miles - the "best" result...

We have written earlier about the history of the DARPA challenge that kick-started the self-driving revolution. It all started with a competition that no one won...

Solving self-driving is essential. Over 1,3 million people die in car accidents every year, and tens of millions get injured. Full self-driving vehicles will be much safer, saving millions of human lives.

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