Recent insights from Walter Isaacson upcoming book reveal how Tesla is leveraging its vast fleet to accelerate development of full self-driving capabilities.
Isaacson describes how Tesla’s latest FSD software marks a radical departure from previous versions. FSD 12 relies on neural networks trained on over 1 billion video frames of human driving, rather than traditional hand-coded logic.
This gives Tesla a huge leg up, with its nearly 2 million vehicles worldwide collecting image data daily. No competitor comes close to having such a massive real-world video dataset.
Imagine for a moment, a fleet of almost 2 million Tesla around the globe, quietly collecting valuable video clips every day. This treasure trove of data, as Walter Isaacson points out in his latest article, gives Tesla a distinct advantage. It’s akin to having a global classroom of students, each providing unique lessons to the AI teacher, Tesla’s neural network. What can’t be learned from a million different perspectives?
The data is then used to train the neural network, honing its ability to navigate the complexities of the real world. Remember, this isn’t like teaching a child to ride a bike. This is more akin to teaching an AI to understand a world of variables, from traffic rules to unpredictable human behavior, all through the lens of a camera.
According to Isaacson, Elon Musk realized the power of this video training approach in mid-April 2023 and made it a development priority. Musk pushed the team to optimize “miles per intervention” as their key metric.
The anecdotes illustrate Musk’s hands-on role in shaping Tesla’s autonomous strategy. Isaacson recounts Musk driving FSD 12 on surface streets near Tesla’s headquarters with engineers onboard (Elon Musk finally livestreamed Tesla FSD beta V12 on X).
Tesla’s goal is to keep ratcheting up testing miles without human interventions. Like a video game high score, the team can monitor their daily progress on giant monitors.
Leveraging its scale of vehicles on the road, Tesla is able to iterate self-driving software faster than the competition. The company uploads new versions weekly to gather more driving data.
While Tesla still has regulatory hurdles to clear, its real-world data advantage means Tesla is poised to hit key autonomous milestones before other carmakers. Isaacson’s insights showcase the company’s rapid technical innovations.