Tesla’s Full Self-Driving initiatives recently received a stern dismissal from Zoox co-founder and CTO Jesse Levinson, who stated during a recent conference that the Elon Musk-led electric car maker has “no chance” to fully develop autonomous driving technology in 2020. The comments come amidst Tesla’s efforts to roll out functions of its Full Self-Driving suite, which Elon Musk expects will be “feature complete” in the near future.
Zoox is a self-driving car startup that is aimed at developing autonomous vehicles that are specifically designed for ride-hailing. This makes the company notably different compared to Tesla, which is planning a ride-hailing service while producing electric cars for individual ownership. Zoox’s approach to achieve full self-driving is also different from the Silicon Valley-based carmaker, with the company using a unique LiDAR setup that involves placing four individual units on each corner of its full self-driving vehicle.
While speaking at Business Insider‘s IGNITION: Transportation event in San Francisco Tuesday, Levinson stated that the existing technology to truly achieve autonomous driving simply does not exist today. The components will eventually be ready, according to the CTO, but the necessary parts for a full self-driving setup are still being developed. Thus, when asked if he believes Tesla will have a chance to achieve Elon Musk’s goal of attaining autonomous driving in 2020, Levinson had a simple answer: “No.”
Explaining his response, Levinson stated that Tesla’s electric cars don’t have enough sensors or computers to achieve full self-driving. While the Zoox co-founder maintained that he believes Tesla’s vehicles are “great” and that the company’s Autopilot system is second to none on the freeway, he nevertheless thinks that autonomous driving is still far away for the electric car maker.
“They don’t have enough sensors or computers to do that given any remotely known technology that exists that humans have ever created. And by the way they’re great cars, the Tesla Autopilot system on the freeway is I think the best out there … I think if Musk focused on that aspect it would be better received,” he said.
In a way, it appears that Levinson’s statements may be coming from the fact that he and Tesla CEO Elon Musk are using two very different approaches for autonomous driving, as well as a lack of updates regarding the Silicon Valley-based carmaker’s autonomous driving initiatives. While Zoox has innovated by using conventional sensors for its vehicles, for example, Tesla has gone ahead and pursued FSD with just a custom computer, a neural network, and a suite of cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors.
Apart from this, Elon Musk has also been very dismissive of LiDAR, stating that the use of the component is a “fool’s errand” and that any company using the technology for autonomous driving is “doomed.” Tesla’s Hardware 3 computer, unveiled earlier this year and now being retrofitted to the first batches of vehicles, was also created and designed to have enough computing power to facilitate the implementation of fully-autonomous driving systems.