When Musk was asked how Autopilot on the Model S is different from similar cruise control and lane-keeping systems from Audi and Mercedes, this was his answer:
“When one car learns something, the whole fleet learns it,” Musk said.
According to Fred Lambert from Electrek, Musk referred to the first round of Model S owners with Autopilot as “expert trainers” that will collect and deliver tons of important data for Tesla’s intelligence network. Musk said the system should improve each week as the driving algorithm constantly updates, adding Model S drivers could add around 1 million miles of new data every day.
But Musk was wrong about Tesla’s system being different from other auto makers. Tesla’s cars aren’t the only ones that can share their data with the whole fleet.
Both Google and Audi use similar machine learning algorithms for their own self-driving systems, where data is collected from every single mile any of its driverless cars spend on the road, learning information both about the road but also how drivers behave in certain situations, which informs every other car in the fleet.
Mercedes is also developing similar technology for its own line of cars, where the cars can learn a driver’s habits, in addition to whatever’s picked up from the in-car sensors.
Still, it doesn’t make Tesla’s accomplishment any less remarkable — especially since it’s delivered this feature in a simple software upgrade. It doesn’t provide full autonomy for Tesla’s cars, but Musk said it’s “quite a profound experience.”
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