Improvements to Tesla’s driver-assist suite are poised to accelerate in the near future, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk providing a brief yet exciting update on the ongoing Autopilot rewrite. According to Musk, the upcoming rewrite will usher in a lot of new functionality all at once, and it will also pave the way for improvements to the company’s labeling software.
Musk’s recent update came as a response to Tesla owner-enthusiast @WholeMarsBlog, who asked about the status of the company’s Autopilot rewrite. Musk’s response was optimistic. “Going well. Team is kicking ass & it’s an honor to work with them. Pretty much everything had to be rewritten, including our labeling software, so that it’s fundamentally “3D” at every step from training through inference,” he wrote.
The CEO’s mention of 3D labeling is notable. In an interview on the Third Row Podcast last April, former Tesla Autopilot engineer Eshak Mir provided some details about the company’s ongoing work with its driver-assist system. According to engineer, the Autopilot rewrite actually started with 3D labeling, which improved the labeling accuracy for each frame used to train Tesla’s neural networks. Such a system allowed Tesla to “stitch” images together that are retrieved from vehicles.
Interestingly enough, Mir’s mention of “stitched” training images for Tesla’s neural networks seem to be referenced in a patent from the electric car maker. Titled “Systems and Methods for Training Machine Models with Augmented Data,” the patent described a novel process that would allow the company to process these images quickly. This is done through the use of “cutouts” that could train neural networks in an optimized manner.
Musk followed this up by elaborating that the upcoming Autopilot rewrite will allow the company to introduce several new features. Musk did not specify if these new functionalities will be distributed to the entire fleet, or if they are only unique for owners who have purchased the Full Self-Driving suite. That being said, the CEO noted that such upgrades will likely be ready for release in the next 2-4 months.
The idea of an upcoming Autopilot rewrite is quite exciting. A rewrite of Autopilot, after all, was responsible for one of the most notable updates that were rolled out back in March 2018, v8.1 2018.10.4. Prior to the rollout of this update, Autopilot’s behavior was quite inconsistent at best, with Tesla owners complaining of jerky steering during lane changes, among other things.
Yet with the rollout of v8.1 2018.10.4, Tesla community members were pleasantly surprised to see massive improvements in Autopilot’s performance. Amidst the positive reactions from the electric car community, Tesla AI Director Andrej Karpathy expressed his gratitude, explaining that the update was the result of a fairly extensive rewrite. Considering that the upcoming Autopilot rewrite hinted at by Elon Musk seems to be far more extensive, it would be very exciting to see just how well Tesla’s driver-assist suite could perform in the coming months.