Waymo Says Tesla's FSD Beta Is "Orders of Magnitude" Behind in Brazen Tweet

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Just like Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchel and Lt. Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, even though they're both good at what they do, Tesla and Waymo can't seem to be able to see eye to eye - on the whole autonomous driving thing, in this case, not fighting the Russians. 
They have their horns locked in a mostly friendly competition, but it doesn't take much for those pointy antlers to slip and cause just a little bit of damage - enough to keep things interesting. And, as it turns out, the most visible battlefield of this rivalry isn't out in the street, as one might imagine given we're talking about self-driving vehicles, but on Twitter.

We've witnessed exchanges between the two before, the last one a little longer than one month ago. Early October, Musk replied to a Tweet detailing how Waymo's robotaxis would work saying "Waymo is impressive, but a highly specialized solution. The Tesla approach is a general solution. The latest build is capable of zero intervention drives. Will release limited beta in a few weeks."

Yes, that was Musk using a Waymo-related tweet to plug Tesla's much-touted release of its Full Self-Driving Beta package for the Autopilot suite. But at least he did it in a chivalrous manner, something a lot of people would say it's not exactly characteristic of Tesla's CEO. He's known to be more of a troll. The fact he bothered to acknowledge Waymo's merits before delivering the takedown is probably one of the highest forms of respect you'll get from Musk.

Waymo, however, wasn't too impressed. The company's reply included the message "Yep, we specialize in zero intervention driving. Check out our steering wheel labels" as well as two images of said steering wheels with the label reading "Please keep your hands off the wheel. The Waymo Driver is in control at all times."

Even though it had the last laugh on that occasion, it looks like Waymo isn't going to let any opportunity to throw some shade at Tesla pass. A few days ago, a Twitter user called Carl Koinberg Henrikson asked Waymo a question that, even though didn't feature Tesla's name, was so thinly veiled it was obvious what it was aiming at.

"Would you say that your technology is orders of magnitude more advanced than the more vocal competitor with a misleading branding?", Carl said. Waymo's reply was just a three-letter word: "Yes". With Tesla claiming the same thing, the question now is which of the two companies is right?

It's impossible to offer a definitive answer and that's because the two companies couldn't have taken more different paths if they tried. We all know what Tesla is doing and how it is refusing to use a LIDAR sensor relying instead strictly on cameras, radar, and ultrasonics, whereas Waymo embraced LIDAR technology as well.

However, the main difference between the two has nothing to do with the technology itself, but with the way they implement it. Tesla famously gives its clients the honor to do the (beta) testing and doesn't take responsibility for any incidents that may occur during this time, whereas Waymo shows more concern about the wellbeing of everyone involved by assuming accountability for what its self-driving fleet does.

These two approaches mean that while the Tesla Autopilot FSD Beta can perform anywhere from great to good to poorly anywhere in the world, Waymo's cars need a more confined area to work their magic. That's why the company is only running its robotaxi program where it offers public rides in driverless taxis in Phoenix, Arizona.

That being said, both companies have bragging rights, though none is entitled to mock the other at the moment. Tesla's solution works universally, but only when it works as it's still very much prone to mistakes. Waymo, on the other hand, can already offer close to 100% autonomous driving, albeit in a restricted geographical area and with remote supervision. Neither has the finished product, so the race is still very much on. Which means so is the Twitter swordplay.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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