Elon Musk confirmed a future update will allow Tesla vehicles to create micro maps of roads that will help owners avoid potholes or other changes in the environment that are not available in conventional maps. The micro maps created from data collected by its fleet will be shared with fellow Tesla owners when they drive along the same road.
Reto Siegrist from Switzerland asked the Tesla CEO on Twitter about the possibility of adding the micro map feature to which Musk replied with a simple, “Yes.” Potholes can be big headaches for Tesla owners because they can cause serious accidents, damage tires and rims, which need repairs that can instantly burn through a few thousand dollars.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2020
According to TRIP, a national transportation research non-profit group, about a third of major urban roads in the United States have pavements that are in substandard condition. Driving on such deteriorated roads cost motorists around $130 billion.
“Drivers are paying a hefty price for our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. Those traveling daily through urban cities bear the weight of the problem – with many wasting thousands of dollars each year on rising transportation costs due to pot holes and wasted fuel,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations
Elon Musk has previously mentioned an anti-pothole feature that will allow Autopilot to safely avoid potholes without the need for driver input. This micro map shared among Tesla vehicles on the road will be a welcome addition to the anti-pothole feature.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 7, 2019
Detecting potholes can actually be challenging because unlike other obstacles, they are depressions on the road and may present differently depending on the current weather and lighting condition. In an ideal situation, the camera of Tesla’s electric car can determine a pothole by comparing the surface irregularity with the rest of the road and the texture inside the pothole compared to nearby pavement.
Tesla shared how its team is making progress in terms of developing its Full Self-Driving capabilities.
“…in terms of labeling, labeling with video in all eight cameras simultaneously. This is a really, I mean in terms of labeling efficiency, arguably like a three order of magnitude improvement in labeling efficiency,” Musk said.
The detection of potholes and the ability to seamlessly negotiate such obstacles on the road will be one big step for Tesla’s dream of having a fleet of truly autonomous cars. The ability of each car to share this information with other Teslas is also making most of the technology to make roads safer for everyone.
“Our networks learn from the most complicated and diverse scenarios in the world, iteratively sourced from our fleet of nearly 1M vehicles in real-time. A full build of Autopilot neural networks involves 48 networks that take 70,000 GPU hours to train. Together, they output 1,000 distinct tensors (predictions) at each timestep,” Tesla wrote to describe how its Autopilot neural networks work.
Elon Musk is also making sure that Tesla can accelerate further development of its FSD and Autopilot and will host an AI party at his house in a few weeks’ time. During the said event, Musk is hoping to find new talents to join Tesla and make functional applications out of the data available to the company.