Tesla is undoubtedly one of the most controversial automakers in the industry and other manufacturers aren't afraid to back that up. The Silicon Valley brand's contributions to autonomous car development have been substantial, but according to one General Motors executive, Elon Musk's prophecies about his company's advancements are unreal. Literally. In a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, Scott Miller, GM’s director of autonomous vehicle integration, told Australian media in Detroit that Musk's evaluation of Tesla's level 5 capabilities is "full of crap."
GM and Tesla are direct competitors in the race for self-driving cars, so it's not surprising to see a quarrel between the two. However, Miller seemed emphatic that the California company is fibbing about its own technology.
“To think you can see everything you need for a Level 5 autonomous [car] with cameras and radar, I don’t know how you do that,” Miller said. He then noted that you can do a coast-to-coast drive of America with current Level 2 or Level 3 technology, so the fact that Tesla claims it can achieve that feat doesn't mean it has achieved Level 5 autonomy by SAE standards.
“Level 5 SAE? I mean is there a test for what that is? I mean Audi is saying they are Level 3 right now, who says that they are not? We could say we are Level 5 right now with hands-off, but we are not. We put the customer in the middle of everything," Miller said.
“The level of technology and knowing what it takes to do the mission, to say you can be a full Level 5 with just cameras and radars is not physically possible. I think you need the right sensors and right computing package to do it. Think about it, we have LIDAR, radar and cameras on this. The reason we have that type of sensor package is that we think you need not be deeply integrated in to be Level 5, you should have redundancy," Miller said.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
GM's own self-driving project, called SuperCruise in the latest line of Cadillac models, has proven to be successful in the real world. In fact, our own Deputy Editor Josh Condon sat in a SuperCruise-equipped Cadi while publishing an article with consistent updates on the car's autonomous capabilities. Miller believes this to be much closer in line with what's possible today, especially when Tesla's current technology is taken into account.
“Do you really want to trust just one sensor measuring the speed of the car coming out of an intersection before you pull out? I think you need some confirmation. So, radar and LIDAR do a good job at measuring object speed, cameras do a great job at identifying objects. So, you can use the right sensor images to give you confidence in what you’re seeing, which I think is important if you’re going to put this technology out for general consumption," Miller reportedly said.
“Could you do it with less and be less robust? Probably. But could you do it with what’s in a current Tesla Model S? I don’t think so,” Miller said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.