Tesla’s ‘Dojo’ rollout in 2021 will make Autopilot and FSD a ‘distant first’ against rivals

Reviewers from the United States and Europe appear to position Tesla’s Autopilot behind rival carmakers such as Mercedes-Benz and General Motors’ other driver-assist systems. This has been clear in recent assessments by organizations such as Thatcham Research and the Euro NCAP, as well as in Consumer Reports. Autopilot beat solutions such as Super Cruise in both reviews, with Customer Reports noticing that the driver-assist system of Tesla is now a “distant second” to its GM-made competitor.

These results are likely to be hard to achieve next year, as Elon Musk noted that next year Tesla is poised to deploy the Version 1 iteration of its “Dojo” supercomputer. So far, details about Project Dojo have been limited, although the CEO noted that the supercomputer would be quite a beast, being at “de facto FP32” a “truly exaflop” system. This statement, while brief, revealed that Tesla is developing what could very well be the most powerful supercomputer in the world.

The fastest supercomputer in the world today is Fugaku, which is deployed in Japan. Built by Japanese tech giant Fujitsu and research institute Riken, during its benchmark testing, Fugaku turned in an output result of 415 petaflops. This is 2.8 times faster than the IBM Summit system developed by the US National Laboratory of Oak Ridge, which previously held the title of fastest in the world. Musk’s comments indicate that in terms of computing capacity, Dojo will be able to outgun Fugaku.

Having the world’s most powerful supercomputer training neural networks for self-driving vehicles will likely result in massive performance improvements at a pace that will probably be nothing short of mind-blowing for Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving system. The neural networks of Tesla are part of the backbone of the driver-assist and autonomous driving initiatives of Tesla, after all, so the faster the training can be done, the better the systems can become.

What is rather unbelievable is that without Dojo being involved, Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD beta have arguably become the best driver-assist systems available on the market today. In their Autopilot assessment, even agencies like Thatcham Research and Consumer Reports admit that the driver-assist system of Tesla has more advanced and more mature features compared to those offered by rival carmakers. It was just the system’s name (in Thatcham’s case), and the driver monitoring system of Autopilot (in Consumer Reports’ case) that gave the edge to Tesla’s rivals.

The improvements to Autopilot and Full Self-Driving would probably become so quick and drastic with Dojo Version 1 coming into the picture that it would be pretty stupid to rank Tesla’s driver-assist and self-driving systems in the same league as other carmakers offered alternatives. In rankings for systems such as Super Cruise, Tesla may lose right now apparently due to technicalities, but such a range may be very difficult to make by next year. Compared to the competition, Tesla Autopilot and FSD may really become a “distant first” by next year.

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