Many people who lack imagination say that Tesla doesn’t have enough sensors on their vehicles to achieve completely driverless operation in a future software update. A team of engineers at Intel owned Mobileye, however, have just demonstrated an autonomous ride with even fewer sensors than you’ll find on a Tesla. In the video linked below, you’ll see one of Intel’s cars performing a drive using just cameras. No radar or ultrasonic sensors at all.
You may remember Mobileye as the Israeli company that provided Autopilot 1 to Tesla when the feature first launched in 2014. Since then, Intel has acquired the company and is working to expand its technology with an approach that’s similar to that of Autopilot. While Mobileye does have teams working on LIDAR sensing technologies, they also have a team working on a completely camera-based system.
As far as I can tell, Mobileye seems to be the #2 company to watch in the autonomous space. Their approach seems ready for production, and their experience licensing their technology and working with vehicle manufacturers should come in handy if they want to try and license their stack as an Autopilot replacement for legacy auto OEMs. They also have the backing of a very experienced chipmaker, which will be essential given that Tesla is designing their own hardware to optimize the performance of their Autopilot software.
The bottom line? If you have any doubt that your Tesla has the capabilities to operate itself completely autonomously check out this unedited video showing a car driving itself in Israel with just cameras. Of course, getting your autonomous vehicle to perfect one fixed route is easy. What’s challenging is getting the vehicle to respond to any kind of unknown situation with imperfect maps and tricky edge cases. Regardless, Mobileye’s demonstration of their camera-only driving technology remains impressive.
If cameras alone are enough to drive a car, the cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors found on every Tesla should be more than sufficient. All you need is a software update, and the fleet wakes up.