IS TESLA ‘FULL OF CRAP’?

South Burnett Times - - FIND YOUR CAR ON FIND A - By Joshua Dowl­ing

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.

PHOTO: KARIM SAHIB

UN­DER FIRE: Scott Miller of Gen­eral Mo­tors has taken aim at Tesla co-founder Elon Musk (pic­tured).

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

The Tesla Model S 60.

PHOTO:S CON­TRIB­UTED

The Chevro­let Bolt is ex­pected to ar­rive in Aus­tralia as a Holden dur­ing 2022.

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