Elon Musk has made the argument that Tesla is more of an AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics company. This is another argument in the series of Musk’s insistence that Tesla is not an automotive company. He has been saying for some time now that investors should view Tesla as a group of startups. He says that Tesla’s service centres are a startup, Tesla’s insurance company is a startup, Tesla’s automation group is a startup, etc.
Musk said that eventually, Tesla is going to be as synonymous with AI and robotics as with vehicles and energy. The CEO mentioned this during a conference call about Tesla’s Q1 financial results.
Right now people think of Tesla as a car company or as an energy company. I think long term, people will think of Tesla as much as an AI robotics company as we are a car company or an energy company. I think we are developing one of the strongest hardware and software AI teams in the world.
Self-Driving Cars: The Real Test for Artificial Intelligence
Self-driving is one of the hardest challenges AI has faced up until now. Being a real-world problem and with a really high number of variables, Musk argues that it is probably one of the hardest technical problems to ever exist.
The biggest reason behind this is that you need to fit a fairly advanced form of neural net into a very small computer. The computers inside the self-driving cars use somewhere around 70-80 watts. In comparison, if you filled a server room with 10,000 computers, this problem would get easier to solve. But it is the lack of computing power in the computers in vehicles that makes this an issue.
Why Tesla should be called an AI Company
Musk mentioned that Tesla is developing many tools like neural net training and video labelling from scratch. They are also working on their own supercomputer, Dojo. The specific reason behind developing Dojo is to train Tesla’s self-driving AI. According to Musk, Musk, this supercomputer will be capable of an exaFLOP. An exaFLOP means carrying out one quintillion (1018) floating-point operations per second. This would make it one of the most powerful computers in the world.
Tesla is optimizing Dojo to train neural nets, and Musk has mentioned that they will make it available to other companies too.
For being known as an AI company, Tesla needs to solve “the hardest technical problem ever”. That’s right, they need to deliver on the promise of achieving full autonomy in their vehicles. Musk has been claiming that they will do that this year, but there is no hard evidence for that yet.