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Why can't we get a proper technical explanation of how Autopilot "learns"?

Why can't we get a proper technical explanation of how Autopilot "learns"?

Tesla, there are thousands of people driving the Model S with Autopilot. Why can't we get a proper technical explanation of how Autopilot "learns"? We have educated hypotheses on how AP learns and Elon himself said it learns. We think we know how and some of us are probably spot on with speculation, but we want validation from JB or Elon. We can understand physics. Don't just explain like we're five years old. Communicate with us, your loyal user base.

Is it sampling? Is it real-time? How do new algorithms get back to the car? When are new algorithms received, (because I don't see any notifications for new updates)? Are you micro-updating transparently? Or is it simply a self-contained system on a chip independent of the fleet, doing it all alone, like geofencing, and there really is no fleet learning updated just yet?

This is the Google generation--we want genuine technical details. Sooner or later someone from Silicon Valley will put packet sniffers on the car and figure it out and they'll get credit for the explanation.

georgehawley.fl.us | November 12, 2015

That would be a nice blog opportunity for JB.

shop | November 12, 2015

Tesla has been a lot more stingy revealing information these days as compared to pre Model S launch days. Back then we heard details on the motor and traction control among other things. I think withholding technical details is a considered policy of Tesla at this point. At least as far as blog posts go.

It is very possible this is because Tesla considers Autopilot to be a very real competitive differentiator and doesn't want to give away the company. Other things Tesla doesn't tell us is how Superchargers are built, how the motor/battery cooling system works, the front/rear drive power splitting algorithm, regen algorithm, etc.

Elon did have a fairly wide ranging closed telephonic press conference where he answered all questions. It's just that there was no technical press invited to ask the interesting questions. You'd almost have to have a software developer grilling Elon to get the right information.

Having said all this, the TMC forums are making headway in figuring out how AP works (just like we figured out the basics of the other things I mentioned above). Elon's AP press conference is a big help, and I suggest you find a recording of it and give it a listen.

Son of a Gunn | November 12, 2015

Remeber Chilton's? Remember CB Colby? Remember JCWhitney? When I was a kid I could go to the local library and there would be dozens of books explaining the entire combustion engine cycle, every make and model's technology. What happened to these books for our new tech cars. How do kids get to read and enjoy about their new tech the way we were able to back then? Snippets from the internet are shallow. This is sad.

Grinnin'.VA | November 12, 2015

@ georgehawley.fl.us | November 12, 2015

[[ That would be a nice blog opportunity for JB. ]]

^^ Count me among the MS owners who would be interested.
When will it happen? "Soon".

Captain_Zap | November 12, 2015

Trade secret?

jd38sam | November 12, 2015

@ Son of a Gun: I still have my first Chilton's somewhere, which covered my 1968 Road Runner that I bought in 77 for $ 600.00. Damn, I wish I still had that old car. However, all is not lost. Today's "kids" use the internet and you tube and the information they find astounds me.

Our 29 year old professor, brought his 20 year old Honda Civic home last spring and asked me to help him change the exhaust manifold. I reminded him that it has been a long time since I worked on cars and he pulled out his computer, saying all the info is right here. He was right and we got it done.

Haggy | November 12, 2015

It's not just autopilot. I think Tesla has long had a "don't worry your pretty little head over it" attitude. If you take it in for service, they don't get technical about what the problem was. If you want to do your own maintenance, all the manual says is that there are things that need to be done but nobody but Tesla should do them.

Tiebreaker | November 12, 2015

Trade secret. Competitive advantage. As simple as that. Part of the "secret sauce" not included in any patent. Even MobilEye doesn't get to know.

1BadNerd | November 12, 2015

Are you folks (and the TMC forum folks) presuming that Tesla isn't doing some experimentation and has settled on a specific approach to what, how and when learning occurs? I don't think they've reached that point yet, and until they do there's no point in a blog post explaining it.

ronjolley | November 12, 2015

AutoSteer is still in Beta. It's a little premature for JB to being writing blogs and/or giving talks - what they learned (past tense), what was a surprise, what worked better than expected.

I'm very interested to hear, some day, how Teslas (a charge of Tesla) learn.

DTsea | November 12, 2015

IP control.

TaoJones | November 12, 2015

It would be worth assembling 20 cogent, crowdsourced questions here and sending them along.

shop | November 12, 2015

@TaoJones, so one would think. However, Every time I see a crowd sourced list of questions, or product improvements, I am dumbfounded how inane it all seems. One smart person is worth 20 average ones when it comes to things like this. AP is at the bleeding edge limit of computer engineering technology and figuring out the rights questions to ask to tease out information isn't easy.

Btw, for those wondering why Tesla doesn't give more info, let me ask you something. Ever wonder how Google can search the entire Internet for you and millions of your friends simultaneously in a fraction of a second? THAT is probably some of the most sophisticated computer technology out there, yet no one even questions it, nor wonders why Google doesn't let people in on the rather complex engineering required for such a feat.

dsodonoghue | November 12, 2015

Actually it's all done remotely. There is a large room in the mothership with hundreds of steering wheel gaming controllers and monitors providing a live feed from your front camera. All tesla employees are required to spend at least 5 hours a day guiding your car between the lines. Every time they get it right they get a chocolate. That is how the fleet learns.

It's a secret because the whole idea is to drive the competition nuts. It's a cunning plan and it seems to be working!

Red Sage ca us | December 11, 2015

Didn't Forza Motorsport 2 have this on Xbox ages ago...?