Today's Top News: Tesla's Moment of Truth as Model 3 Arrives, Intel & Mobileye Double Down on Driverless

Tesla's Moment of Truth as Model 3 Arrives, Intel & Mobileye Double Down on Driverless

All eyes will be on Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk tonight to see if he is reveals details about the status of Tesla's challenged Autopilot at tonight's official Model 3 launch party.

Taking a step back, the Model 3 debut arguably represents Tesla most-important launch to date, as the company delivers its most-affordable model that will retail for $35,000. The self-touted everyman's Tesla is expected to offer a top range of 215 miles on a charge and a zero-to-60 mph acceleration of 5.6 seconds. These are very solid specs for an EV but certainly don't give the Model 3 the super sports car status of the Model S.

But when it comes to Autopilot, Tesla has long claimed the Model 3, as well as the Model S and X, have the hardware in place to offer "full self-driving" capabilities. The key word is "hardware," since Autopilot's performance depends on over-the-air software updates.

Since Tesla split with Mobileye, it has struggled to reconfigure Autopilot without the Israeli camera sensor and other technologies it offered since October. Only recently has the new Autopilot's functionality achieved parity with the previous version.

Tesla split with Mobileye for a number of reasons, but one key and revealing divergence between the two companies had to do with a Musk's risk taking, a source close to the two companies told Driverless. Tesla models have the most-advanced Level 2-capable models you can buy in retail channels, while Musk recently said during a TED talk that Tesla will offer Level 5 in no less than two years.

The rest of the notoriously car industry, in general, is moving much more slowly than Tesla is.

The Audi A8 has Level 3 hardware available but has yet to be activated pending legislation that permits Level 3 driving and only works at speeds of up to 37 mph.

Only Volvo Cars says it will offer Level 4 models by 2021.

Compared to Level 3 cars, which require input from the driver when prompted to take control of the vehicle, Level 4 models auto-pilot the vehicle from point A to B without human intervention.

As I reported yesterday, the Model 3's gearshift option is more geared for Level 4 driving compared to the Model S and X's adaptive cruise control.

Tonight, Musk may or may not announce improvements to Autopilot or offer proof that Tesla is making progress in delivering on Musk's arguably insane promises to offer Level 5 driving within two years. But if he does not, then "full self-driving" available in Teslas will likely be more behind schedule than previously thought.

Demand for Intel's Driverless Chips Is Huge Ahead of Its Fusion with Mobileye

Pouring over a publicly traded company's financial report is not terribly exciting for non-finance types, but Intel's second-quarter earnings report offers interesting proof that systems builders and car OEMs are aggressively investing in driverless development.

Intel said today demand for its processors and other devices for driverless and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to help the company see better-than-forecasted earnings and profits this year.

The CPU giant also said it expects to complete its acquisition of Mobileye this quarter, months earlier than expected. The merger will give Intel a significantly larger presence in the self-drive market, thanks largely to Mobileye's camera sensor knowhow.

Elsewhere in the News

Light system suppler Osram has purchased a 25.1% stake in Canadian LiDAR maker LeddarTech. A bill that would allow federal rules and regulations for driverless transportation to override state laws in the US moves quickly to the House of Representatives for a vote.

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Cover photo by Tesla

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