Tesla Model S with LIDAR Spotted - Is Musk Having a Change of Heart?

Contrary to what he may believe at the moment, most people want Elon Musk to succeed. Sure, there are probably a few big shots in the oil business and in the traditional automotive industry who, in the long term, see Tesla as a threat, but for the average Joe (well, not so average since he'd have to afford a $60,000 car to be directly interested), Elon is OK.
LIDAR Model S 1 photo
In fact, he's more than OK. He's the man who's trying and mostly succeeding in rattling the establishment. Yes, he's filthy rich, but at least he's trying to do something with that wealth, and not sit on it and wait for his no-good kids to spend it all on drugs and yachts. So, yeah, most of us are rooting for him.

But he's not really making it easy for us. He's been a little too arrogant one too many times, and things haven't always gone his way. For instance, during a press conference last October, he said this: "I don’t think you need LIDAR … you can do this all with passive optical and then with maybe one forward radar. I think that completely solves it without the use of LIDAR. I’m not a big fan of LIDAR, I don’t think it makes sense in this context.”

It may not sound arrogant at first, but it's basically saying that all the other companies investing in autonomous technology have gotten it wrong, while Tesla can make a system that's just as good (if not better) using less complicated hardware.

The other industry experts disagreed and continued on their long way toward the same goal. Last week,  we heard about the first Autopilot-related casualty, and that was an accident that a LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) system could have prevented. In fact, it revealed a major weakness in the way the Autopilot software perceives the surrounding world only using its video cameras and sensors.

Doing more with less is generally a great approach, but when safety is concerned, redundancy is always welcome. So what if a LIDAR system will only be necessary one time in 130 million miles if that's enough to save a life? Of course the man in the Model S was at fault for completely ignoring the road ahead, but that doesn't change the fact that the car's system failed to acknowledge the presence of a large vehicle ahead. Not only that, but the car even went on after the crash.

On June 30, a blogger that goes by the name of Tesla Owner posted a picture of a Model S sporting a LIDAR sensor on top. Could this be a Tesla test-vehicle for the Autopilot 2.0, the next-gen autonomous driving system that could offer more self-driving features and, hopefully, more safety? We can only hope that the stage two of the Model 3 unveil will confirm this.


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