Exclusive: The Tesla AutoPilot – An In-Depth Look At The Technology Behind the Engineering Marvel

Usman Pirzada
Posted Dec 3, 2015
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Update: Tesla has announced that it will be ending its partnership with Mobileye. You can read our article on the future of Tesla Autopilot to see what the company has in store for the next generation of Autopilot.

I will be talking about something rather interesting today: the AutoPilot technology that powers the Tesla Model S and Model X electric vehicles. The feature itself has gained a lot of fame in the recent months thanks to its obvious novelty value and the fact that it is the first hands-off, self-driving technology on the market today. Tesla’s Autopilot enables the latest Model S and Model X to autonomously change lanes, follow vehicles and curves, along with the usual combination of accident prevention technology such as emergency steering and braking. To-date however, the ‘behind the scenes’ of the technological marvel have remained rather shrouded in mystery – something I hope to change in this editorial.

Tesla’s luxury electric cars have quickly become the darling of the automobile market. The hype is at an all time high – and for good measure too – since they are nothing less than a technological marvel. The nature of these cars is boldly different from most other production vehicles out there. Tesla’s Semi-Autonomous driving technology is just one example of the multitude of exciting features that are currently available only to a Tesla owner.

Unfortunately for tech enthusiasts, there haven’t been a lot of details easily available on the workings of the technology so far. Presentations by Nvidia and interviews of Elon Musk tend to give a hint to what they might be, but as you will find out in this article, some of the hints have been interpreted inaccurately by various publications, while some diligent observers were on the right path. Without any further ado, here is the breakdown of today’s piece:

  • Introduction
  • Basic Autopilot Implementations and DNNs: A brief introduction to some Autopilot sensing approaches as well as Deep Neural Networks and Machine Learning.
  • Tesla’s Digital Cockpit – Nvidia’s VCM: A cursory look at the hardware behind the infotainment system and instrument cluster aboard the latest Tesla models.
  • Tesla’s Autopilot System – MobilEye: Looking at the word’s first DNN employed (in this capacity) on the road. We will be diving deep into the primary technology powering Tesla’s autopilot.
  • Mobileye Continued – Hardware Specifications and Overview
  • What the future holds: A look at what we can expect with future hardware upgrades to Tesla EVs.
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Before we begin, I would like to point out that all information presented in this article has been independently verified and comes from sources knowledgeable about the matter. The utmost care has been taken to ensure that all relevant companies were queried about any important details. That said, we accept the possibility that there might be any human error or typographic mistake – any such peculiarity (if any) will be corrected at the earliest

Contents:
Next: A Brief Overview of DNNs and Autopilot Sensors
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