Love him or hate him, Elon Musk isn’t one of those unassuming CEOs with his head buried in a stack of spreadsheets. The chief executive and innovator has never been one to shun the spotlight, and uses his many opportunities to offer candid, maybe overly optimistic assessments of his business projects.
But in a rare moment of humility this week, Musk appears to admit that Tesla’s full self-driving technology could use some work.
Tesla has been in the spotlight for ages based on the development of its driver-assist technology, Autopilot. Despite what the name suggests, Autopilot is -- in its current form -- what’s considered a Level 2 autonomous system, but Tesla has boasted ambitious plans for a fully autonomous system down the road. And based on comments made last year, Musk gave the impression that full self-driving was coming up fast.
That’s why it was even more surprising when Musk tweeted on Monday that Tesla’s latest full self-driving beta version 9.2 is “not great.” He went on the elaborate, saying the AI/Autopilot team was “rallying to improve (it) as fast as possible.”
But don’t worry: he followed up later that day, taking the opportunity to promote the benefits of the next beta, 9.3, an unreleased version he tested by driving from Pasadena to LAX. This version, according to Musk, is “much improved.” Hmm … that didn’t take long.
Despite Musk’s bravado about his company and its relentless pursuit of autonomous driving, he has also tempered expectations as recently as July when the version 9 software first deployed. His recommendation for users was that they should be “paranoid” when utilizing the in-development software and that it "may do the wrong thing at the worst time."
Be careful out there, early adopters.