Status of Autonomous Vehicles

In my quest to research background information on the Tesla Autonomous Driving accidents – the last one to my knowledge occurring last Friday, May 11th, near Salt Lake City, resulting in a Tesla S Sedan rearing a fire truck – I came across a company called Waymo. Waymo is an autonomous vehicle development company which is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. Waymo, at the time of writing this blog, has logged the most miles and is widely considered to be the leader in autonomous vehicle development. The primary target is the trucking industry. It seems that everybody is in the game on self driving cars. BMW, General Motors, Uber, Ford, and even Amazon and Apple.

Apparently there was an agreement with the NTSB (National Transportation and Safety Board) and Tesla to withhold preemptive
information on crashes, particularly the one which recently happened at the end of last year. Tesla left this agreement in its desire to be open to the public, promoting its public relations and disclosing that staying in the agreement would have required them to not release information about Autopilot to the public. Tesla came out with statistics showing that there is 1 automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles, where in the case of Tesla, there is 1 fatality every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Tesla hardware autopilot.

However, according to Dan Stringer, a noted research analyst, Tesla’s financials have become very precarious as far as the autopilot goes. Tesla’s Model 3 production has not met demand standards as the Model’s production has been shut down multiple times due to over automation. Jim Keller, who was the VP of Autopilot and chip engineer at Tesla, recently decided to leave for Intel. He of course created the Tesla autopilot system for which their autopilot has had many failures. Now amidst an investigation by the NTSB regarding the recent crash, Tesla’s former executive Matthew Schwall has also left to join Waymo’s Safety Team, prompting Tesla to restructure its management structure.