IS TESLA ‘FULL OF CRAP’?
Car giant General Motors has slammed tech start-up Tesla for planning to release autonomous vehicle technology before it’s ready.
Tesla’s entrepreneurial boss Elon Musk claims his cars “already have the hardware needed for a full self-driving capability”, known in the industry as a “Level Five” engineering standard.
However in a briefing about autonomous cars to Australian media in Detroit on Thursday night, Scott Miller, General Motors’ director of autonomous vehicle integration said “I think he’s full of crap”, when asked what he thought about Musk’s claim.
“If you think you can see everything you need for a Level Five autonomous (car) with cameras and radar, I don’t know how you do that,” said Mr Miller.
“To be what an SAE Level Five full autonomous system is, I don’t think he (Elon Musk) has the content to do that.”
The car industry tests extensively before releasing new technology to the public.
“We put the customer in the middle of everything; we think it’s irresponsible to say (a car has fully autonomous capability) at this point,” said Mr Miller.
“The level of technology in doing what it takes to do … Level Four or Level Five, which is cameras and radar, I don’t think it’s physically possible (with what Tesla currently has).
“I think you need the right sensors and the right computer package to do it. We have lydar, radar and cameras on (our cars).
“The reason we have that type of sensor package is … to be deeply integrated into Level Five, you should have some redundancies (back-up measures in case of equipment failures).
“Do you really want to trust one sensor measuring the speed of a car coming into an intersection before you pull out? I think you need some confirmation.”
Mr Miller said lydar and radar systems do a good job of measuring object speed and cameras do a great job of identifying objects.
Tesla’s autopilot hardware technology suite includes eight cameras, one radar and ultrasonic sensors.
“You can use the right sensor images to give you competence in what you’re seeing,” said Mr Miller. “That’s important if we’re going to put this technology out for general consumption to the public.
“Could you do it with what’s in the current (Tesla) Model S? I don’t think so.”
The comments came after General Motors revealed the Chevrolet Bolt, which will come to Australia wearing Holden badges by 2022.
The Chevrolet Bolt looks like an ordinary hatchback except it is powered by an electric motor with enough battery power to travel almost 400km between recharges.
Aside from its surprisingly zippy acceleration — it’s almost as quick as a turbocharged VW Golf GTI hot hatch — it has one other cool feature that could change the way we drive cars of the future.
In one driving mode it uses the electric motor to slow the vehicle so dramatically you don’t need to apply the brakes.
All you need to do is ease off the throttle and the car will brake heavily enough to apply the brake lights — just like a dodgem car which has only one pedal.
General Motors this week said it plans to roll out two dozen electric cars globally over the next five years.
The price of the technology at that stage is anyone’s guess, but General Motors is aiming to make electric cars more affordable.
Electric vehicles currently make up 0.6 per cent of new-car sales in Australia, but Holden believes the market will grow.
“Australia may be a little bit behind when it comes to electric cars at the moment but we need to make sure we’re ready for them,” said Holden spokesman Sean Poppitt.
Holden said it has two examples of the Bolt electric car in Australia for evaluation and to help bring government agencies up to speed.
UNDER FIRE: Scott Miller of General Motors has taken aim at Tesla co-founder Elon Musk (pictured).
The Tesla Model S 60.
The Chevrolet Bolt is expected to arrive in Australia as a Holden during 2022.