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The State of FSD: What Systems Are There, When Will They Be Ready?

The development of Full Self-Driving (FSD) systems is progressing rapidly across the globe, with significant contributions from various companies.

Photo by gibblesmash asdf / Unsplash

The development of Full Self-Driving (FSD) systems is progressing rapidly across the globe, with significant contributions from various companies. Here’s an updated overview of the current state of FSD systems and their projected readiness.

Tesla's FSD

Tesla continues to push the boundaries of FSD technology. Their system includes features such as Navigate on Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, Autopark, Summon, and Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control. The latest FSD Beta version 12 leverages end-to-end neural networks to enhance driving performance. Tesla plans to unveil a new "robotaxi" without a steering wheel or pedals in August 2024, further showcasing their ambition to lead in autonomous vehicle technology​ (Drive)​​ (TechXlore)​.

Tesla has upgraded to Hardware 4 (HW4), which includes high-definition radar, enhanced cameras, and a more powerful FSD computer. This hardware is expected to improve the accuracy and reliability of Tesla's autonomous driving capabilities​ (Tesla)​​ (AutoPilot Review)​.

Waymo

Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., operates a commercial autonomous taxi service in Phoenix and is expanding to other areas. Waymo's vehicles use a combination of LiDAR, radar, and cameras to achieve Level 4 autonomy within geofenced areas. This allows them to handle all driving tasks without human intervention in these designated zones​ (Electrek)​.

Cruise

Cruise, backed by General Motors, focuses on developing fully autonomous ride-hailing services. Recently, Cruise faced setbacks, including the suspension of all driverless operations nationwide due to safety concerns. The NHTSA is investigating issues such as abrupt braking and vehicles blocking roadways. Cruise has resumed supervised autonomous driving with safety drivers in Phoenix to address these challenges and regain public trust​ (TechCrunch)​​ (TechXlore)​​ (TechCrunch)​.

Mobileye

Mobileye, an Intel subsidiary, offers solutions like Mobileye Drive and Mobileye SuperVision. Mobileye Drive is designed for robotaxis and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) providers, while Mobileye SuperVision provides a hands-free but eyes-on system for consumer vehicles. Mobileye's technology integrates cameras, radars, and LiDAR to ensure redundancy and safety. They are collaborating with various automakers globally to deploy their autonomous systems​ (Mobileye)​​ (Mobileye)​​ (Mobileye)​.

Chinese FSD Efforts

China is making significant strides in FSD technology through companies like Baidu, Pony.ai, and AutoX.

  • Baidu's Apollo project has received multiple permits for autonomous taxi services and continues extensive testing and deployment across Chinese cities​ (MIT Technology Review)​.
  • Pony.ai has received the first license in Guangzhou to test its Level 4 autonomous trucks on open roads and has expanded its operations internationally, including in the Middle East​ (Electrek)​.
  • Haomo.AI, backed by Great Wall Motors, announced plans to make its city NOA (Navigate on Autopilot) service available in 100 Chinese cities by the end of 2024​ (TechCrunch)​​ (TechCrunch)​.

China’s government is also supporting the expansion of highly autonomous vehicles by issuing new programs to accelerate their rollout, allowing more advanced technology onto the market and expanding operational zones​ (TechNode)​.

Challenges and Future Outlook

Achieving full autonomy involves overcoming significant technical and regulatory challenges. While current systems like Tesla's FSD Beta and Waymo's autonomous taxis show substantial progress, issues of reliability, safety, and regulatory approval remain. Experts believe that true Level 5 autonomy, where vehicles operate without any human intervention under all conditions, is still several years away. Developing robust AI decision-making, sensor technology, and comprehensive mapping are critical next steps. Additionally, gaining public trust and regulatory approval will be essential for widespread adoption.

In conclusion, significant strides have been made in FSD technology, but it is not yet ready for full deployment across all scenarios. Companies like Tesla, Waymo, Cruise, Mobileye, and various Chinese firms are at the forefront, each contributing uniquely to the future of autonomous driving.

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