Tesla Stock Needed Some Good News
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) just tossed a life raft to TSLA stockholders. After weeks of pessimism pushed Tesla stock down 13.8%, an update to Tesla’s “Autopilot” software finally gave shareholders something to cheer for.
Until now, Autopilot used on-board cameras to map out the car’s surroundings. It sent the visuals through sophisticated image-recognition software, which then transmitted those messages to the Autopilot mainframe. Every Tesla made after October 2014 includes these on-board cameras, but that’s not all.
They also hold radar technology. (Source: “Upgrading Autopilot: Seeing the World in Radar,” Tesla Motors Inc, September 11, 2016.)
Using these sensors in tandem, Autopilot gives Tesla vehicles the power to park themselves, change lanes on a highway, or reverse themselves out of a garage. Until now, radar was just supposed to be a “supplementary” piece of equipment, but the recent software update flips that script.
“After careful consideration, we now believe [radar] can be used as a primary control sensor without requiring the camera to confirm visual image recognition,” read a statement on Tesla’ blog. “This is a non-trivial and counter-intuitive problem, because of how strange the world looks in radar.”
In other words, radar is now Tesla’s eyes. The company’s entire fleet of cars will feed into a master map of the United States, all painted in the smoky world of radar imaging. By amassing this information, Tesla cars will learn to differentiate between potential crashes and roadside litter. Otherwise, the car would brake every few minutes, which is an annoying inconvenience that everyone could do without.
The engineering team has highlighted potential problems, and has explained how the engineers will fix them. According to the engineers, this update brings Tesla closer to its long-term goal of fully autonomous cars.
Ever since the release of Autopilot, investors have grown extra bullish on driverless technology. The venture capital market in particular has doled out huge sums of money to other self-driving initiatives. Some of these startups have crossed the coveted $1.0 billion valuation mark, suggesting that the market expects big growth in the driverless car market.
Tesla stock was up 1.97% at the close of trading on Monday.
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