Tesla Says It Got This Far Thanks To Model S' Permanent Internet Connection

Tesla Model S facelift 1 photo
Photo: Tesla
Tesla's Model S came with an always-on Internet connection from the day it came to market.
This feature conveniently provided the company with a winning edge in the autonomous driving battle, says Sterling Anderson, the director of the Tesla Autopilot program. As previously explained, Tesla manages to gather an average of one million miles of data every 10 hours.

How does Tesla do this, you ask? Easy – all of the Model S cars on the road send data to the automaker. At first, Tesla collected driving data without mentioning its future intentions.

Two years after the Model S first came to market, the company implemented a set of 12 sensors into the car, and provided them as a bundle. They were described as being used for a new emergency braking feature.

While also being used to implement an autonomous emergency braking system, the set of sensors in the Model S monitored and collected driving data. Sneaky, right? Yes, but smart at the same time, as Tesla figured out what mistakes human drivers do on particular sections of road.

As the miles went by, Tesla got more and more data. According to the American automaker, its users achieved over 100 million miles of driving with the Autopilot feature activated.

Since the semi-autonomous driving mode was launched in 2015, the number of cumulative miles traveled by Tesla's Model S users is impressive, to say the least. The figure comes from approximately 70,000 Model S drivers, so each owner had their contribution to this result. However, collecting 2.6 million miles of self-driving data each day would not have been possible without the always-on cellular Internet connection of this car.

As Technology Review notes, Tesla does not have the ability to control its models remotely. The drivers have full control, and the Autopilot system in each car does the driving individually.

However, the performance of the system is continuously monitored by Tesla, and the company secretly installs new features into the self-driving software, and tests them one user at a time.

We are talking about incremental improvements, which can bring an advancement without any risk to the customer. Those that perform well get installed in all of the Model S vehicles with Autopilot on them.

Tesla is the single automaker that does this, but expect this system to be present in every self-driving car that will be on the market in a decade from now. Until then, Tesla has a massive head-start, as long as privacy advocates don't shut down this clever trick.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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