Tesla Autopilot hits milestone: 1 billion miles driven, 10% of fleet’s total mileage to date

[Credit: Tesla]

Tesla’s Autopilot has achieved a notable milestone — as of today, Tesla owners have driven 1 billion miles with the driver-assist system engaged. This impressive figure corresponds to 10% of the total mileage driven by Tesla’s electric cars across the globe to date. 

Tesla explains that the 1 billion-mile milestone refers to miles that were driven by owners with Autopilot actively engaged. It should also be noted that the 10% total mileage mentioned by the company includes vehicles sold even before Autopilot was introduced, as well as cars whose owners decided not to purchase the driver-assist system.

Autopilot was launched in 2015, and the company has been rolling out improvements to the system since. Electric cars built from September 2014, which are equipped with Hardware 1, as well as vehicles manufactured from October 2016 onward, which are fitted with Hardware 2, continue to receive new features through over-the-air updates today. One such update was Software Version 9, which started rolling out to Tesla’s fleet of vehicles last month.

Covering 10% of the company’s total mileage to date all but proves that Autopilot is one of the most compelling driver-assist features in the auto market today. Considering that the figure includes miles from vehicles that were sold before Autopilot was introduced, and considering that Autopilot at its current state is not ready to be used in all roads, the adoption of the feature among Model S, 3, and X owners appears to be widespread.

What is particularly remarkable is that Autopilot is still in the process of evolving. Features such as Navigate on Autopilot, which debuted on Software Version 9, are impressive, but even more compelling capabilities are set to be introduced in the near future. Elon Musk, for one, stated during his appearance at the Recode Decode podcast that he believes Tesla’s electric cars could achieve full self-driving features by next year. Musk also dubbed capabilities such as Navigate on Autopilot as a notable step towards autonomous driving.

“(Navigate on Autopilot) is one of the first major steps toward full self-driving. You can enter in an address, and from highway on-ramp to highway off-ramp, the car will change lanes. It will go from one highway to the next automatically and take off-ramp automatically. It’s pretty wild. It’ll overtake a slow car. It’s basically integrating navigation with the Autopilot capability.

“I think we’ll get to full self-driving next year. As a generalized solution, I think. Like we’re on track to do that next year. So I don’t know. I don’t think anyone else is on track to do it next year.”

Tesla’s fleet has driven 1 billion miles in Autopilot. [Credit: Tesla]

Upcoming enhancements to Autopilot are coming next year, particularly as Tesla is hard at work developing its custom hardware for release next year. Designed by Apple alumni Peter Bannon, Tesla’s upcoming hardware upgrade is expected to expedite the rollout of even more remarkable Autopilot improvements. During the third quarter earnings call, for one, Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s AI Director, noted that the company had actually trained large neural networks well. Tesla is just unable to roll them out today due to computational constraints in current hardware.

“This upgrade allows us to not just run the current neural networks faster. But more importantly, it will allow us to deploy much larger, computationally more expensive networks to the fleet. As you make networks bigger by adding more neurons, the accuracy of all their predictions increases with the added capacity. So in other words, we are currently at a place where we’ve trained large neural networks that work very well, but we are not able to deploy them to the fleet due to computational constraints,” Karpathy said.

Elon Musk has noted that an upgrade to Hardware 3, which would involve a simple swap of the Autopilot computer, would be free for all Tesla owners who opted to purchase the Full Self-Driving suite. For owners who did not order Full Self-Driving, a fee comparable to the suite’s price would be required.

Tesla Autopilot hits milestone: 1 billion miles driven, 10% of fleet’s total mileage to date
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