Tesla maintains faith in radar, camera Autopilot setup

Musk again takes to Twitter to defend Tesla's technology approach.

Tesla Motors will continue to make its Autopilot autonomous-driving system better with camera and radar improvements, and isn't likely to turn to "lidar," a detection system that uses light from a laser, according to Electrek. Tesla chief Elon Musk, in a series of Tweets, promised "moderate and maybe big advances" in Autopilot. The improvements would augment features such as the electric vehicles' front-facing camera and radar as well as 360-degree sensors. And for those technologically inclined, Tesla's looking to add what Musk called "temporal smoothing" that compares object positions over time, and factors that data into how Autopilot reads and reacts to those objects.

Additionally, the California-based automaker may broaden its collaboration with Germany-based Bosch and Israel-based Mobileye in an effort to improve Autopilot, Automotive News says, citing Musk's Tweets from Sunday. Musk credited both companies with making Autopilot better and said the company had a "promising" discussion with Bosch in regards to furthering their collaboration.

As for lidar, the issue is that, unlike radar, lidar runs into problems when there's snow, fog, rain, or dust in front of the car. Of course, the other issue is that Tesla would need to sink a bunch of money into its Autopilot systems to drop in lidar, Electrek said in a separate post. It is interesting to note, though, that Tesla recently started adding housing for a second front-facing camera on its Model X SUVs, suggesting that the California-based automaker is addressing Autopilot changes via additional cameras.

Musk also used Twitter to address the publicity behind the recent Tesla crashes that have been attributed in part to Autopilot. Musk noted that European authorities had "no safety concerns" with Autopilot. As for a recent crash involving a Pennsylvania driver, Musk noted that the driver had turned off Autopilot before the accident.

Tesla, of course, has been facing heat recently because of three crashes in which Autopilot may have been a factor. One Florida crash, which killed the Tesla driver, may have been caused because the Autopilot wasn't able to delineate a white semi truck from the bright sky. Musk continues to defend the Autopilot system, and has maintained that the company has no plans to remove the feature from its cars.

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