General Motors (GM) recently made headlines by unveiling plans to beef up their electric vehicle (EV) lineup. Now, the veteran carmaker is again in the spotlight, this time for taking a swing at Tesla and Elon Musk.
While speaking to Australian news outlets in Detroit last week, GM’s director of autonomous vehicle integration Scott Miller criticized Tesla’s CEO for claiming that his company’s vehicles are capable of Level 5 autonomy.
“The level of technology and knowing what it takes to do the mission, to say you can be a full Level 5 with just cameras and radars is not physically possible,” said Miller. He went on to add that Musk is “full of crap.”
In 2014, the U.S.-based Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) released their J3016 document detailing the levels of automated driving technology. Level 5 represents completely driverless vehicle technology, but at present, most — if not all — self-driving cars fall under Level 3 (conditional autonomy). Miller doesn’t believe Tesla’s current Autopilot system has the hardware and software necessary to guarantee Level 5 autonomy.
“To be what an SAE Level 5 full autonomous system is, I don’t think he has the content to do that,” Miller told the Australian press. “I think you need the right sensors and right computing package to do it. Think about it. We have LIDAR, radar, and cameras on this… [To] be Level 5, you should have redundancy.”
As for his own company, GM was the first automaker to mass produce autonomous cars, and just yesterday, they acquired a LIDAR developer to push their self-driving car technology forward. According to Miller, GM expects to be able to produce Level 4 autonomous cars “within quarters” and plans to first introduce these vehicles in ride-sharing systems.
The debate between Tesla and GM on what a self-driving system must include in order to achieve Level 5 autonomy can only help the industry by pushing research and innovation. The more automakers we have competing to create next-level autonomous systems, the sooner the public gets to reap the benefits of safer roads and a little extra downtime during the morning commute.