Elon Musk puts a lot of value in Tesla’s full self-driving program, so much so that during an interview published last year, he noted that autonomous driving would be the key to the company’s value in the future. Without autonomy, Musk noted that Tesla would basically be worth nothing.
“The overwhelming focus is on solving full self-driving. That’s essential. It’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or worth basically zero,” Musk said during an interview with EV owners from the Tesla Owners Silicon Valley group.
One could easily argue against Musk’s statement, considering that Tesla is far more than a car company. Even without self-driving, the company’s vehicles are already several cuts above their competition in tech, features, and performance. Tesla Energy, another business that’s not in any way connected to self-driving, also has the potential to become one of the company’s biggest profit drivers.
Yet despite this, there is no denying that autonomy can indeed take Tesla to new heights. And to achieve this, Tesla is building up its self-driving system on the back of real-world data gathered by its fleet. Tesla’s FSD Beta program is turning three years old, and since its beginning, it has made some solid advances. The number of vehicles that are part of the program has grown significantly as well.
As could be seen in Tesla’s Q3 2023 Update Letter, Tesla’s FSD Beta fleet has now passed the 500 million mile mark. That’s a lot of useful real-world data that can hopefully help the company achieve its ambitious target of achieving autonomy. Musk discussed this, as well as the potential of FSD V12, during the Q3 earnings call.
“Regarding Autopilot and AI, our vehicles have now driven over half a billion miles with FSD Beta, and that number is growing rapidly… We’re also seeing significant promise with FSD Version 12. This is the end-to-end AI where it’s photon count in, controls out, or really you can think of it as there’s just a large bitstream coming in and a tiny bitstream going out, impressing reality into a very small set of outputs, which is actually kind of how humans work.
“The vast majority of human data input is optics from our eyes. And so, we are like the car, photons in, controls out, with neural nets in the middle… We will continue to invest significantly in AI development as this is really the massive game changer, and success in this regard in the long term, I think, has the potential to make Tesla the most valuable company in the world by far. If you have fully autonomous cars at scale and fully autonomous humanoid robots that are truly useful, it’s not clear what the limit is,” Musk said.
One could hope that FSD V12 will really be the iteration of Tesla’s advanced driver assist system that takes the company’s autonomous driving program forward.
Check out our coverage of Tesla’s Q3 2023 Update Letter here.
Check out our Q3 earnings call Live Blog, which contains our live coverage of the event, here.
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