Tesla founder: Autopilot is bullshit, cars shouldn’t be like iPhones

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Over a few years, Tesla, a top electric car brand in the world has made self driving a top priority. The company call this feature autopilot. Its CEO, Elon Musk is eager to see that self driving cars are a success and he is pushing Tesla to make it happen. However, one of the company’s original founders is not in favour of it. Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard said in an interview: “In my opinion, we need to get rid of the habit of thinking that all these self-driving things are related to electric cars. They are separate. Yes. What I would like to see people think about is making cars that people can drive.”

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Autopilot is bullshit

Eberhard was CEO of Tesla but was ousted by Musk in 2007. He said developing self-driving software for electric vehicles was the least of his concerns while working at Tesla.

“So, remember, all this FSD, Autopilot bullshit – none of that existed when I was there,” he said. Woke up, and didn’t think about it at all. That happened later. It required a much bigger budget than ours.”

When Eberhard left Tesla in 2007, the company hadn’t released its first car. Tesla was developing the Roadster, a small sports car based on the Lotus Elise. The Lotus Elise is a two-seater convertible first marketed in 1996 by Lotus Motors UK.

Eberhard said that while he appreciates “safety-oriented systems” such as driver assistance features, he is “not a big fan” of self driving cars. He said Musk appeared to be preoccupied with self-driving cars and identified it as one of his biggest concerns about Tesla under Musk.

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Cars shouldn’t be like iPhones

For years, Musk has promised that Tesla will put fully self-driving cars on the road. Last year, the billionaire said Tesla’s Autopilot system was the difference between a Tesla worth a lot of money and almost nothing. These days, Tesla is best known for its remote software updates. Musk has said the company is “as much a software company as it is a hardware company”. But Eberhard disagrees with this approach.


I think it’s wrong to think of a car as a software platform, like an iPhone or something. But it’s different,” Eberhard said. “I have an iPhone, and every time I get a software update, there will always be bugs. These bugs mean danger. For example, my newsfeed app crashes occasionally. It’s not a big deal because it’s just an annoyance on the iPhone. But if this kind of bug appears in car control software, for example, brakes or my steering wheel, it’s going to kill you.”

Currently, all Tesla models are equipped with Autopilot. Tesla owners can also purchase the company’s FSD beta feature for $15,000 or through a $199 monthly subscription. The beta feature enables the vehicle to automatically change lanes, enter and exit highways, recognize stop signs and traffic lights, and park. Both programs still require a licensed vehicle owner to monitor the system at all times. Tesla’s AI system collects owner data to improve the system as drivers use it. As of December last year, more than 285,000 people had purchased the feature.

Tesla faces more investigation over autopilot

Tesla has come under increasing scrutiny from regulators over the past few years. Most of the scrutiny is over its Autopilot system and marketing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Autopilot and its potential link to several crashes. Eberhard and Musk have disagreed in the past. Eberhard filed a defamation suit against Musk in 2009 after Musk began calling himself a Tesla founder and making negative comments about Eberhard, which was settled that same year. Since then, Musk has criticized Eberhard online.

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