Volvo fires at Tesla, calls Autopilot feature a “wannabe”
Is a Tesla what you want, what you really, really want? No, we’re not talking about THAT “wannabe,” but that’s the gist of what Volvo’s recent volley at the Palo Alto automaker and its Autopilot feature.
This isn’t the first time a rival automaker has unleashed some vitriol at Tesla and Autopilot, as BMW had recently said that the feature “will not allow Tesla to overtake BMW in autonomous driving technology because it isn’t as refined as it should be.” Sounds tactful enough, but Volvo didn’t mince any words when it fired off at Tesla. According to Trent Victor, Volvo’s senior technical leader of crash avoidance, Autopilot is an “unsupervised wannabe,” and Tesla is, with this feature, “trying to create a semi-autonomous car that appears to be autonomous.”
Can you feel the burn, Elon Musk? Yes, those were very pointed words indeed from Victor, who added that Volvo’s similar feature will be substantially better than Tesla’s. Putting things into perspective, Tesla said that Autopilot is Level 2 autonomous, or the combination of two technologies to facilitate a self-driving car. There are some tech experts who insist that it’s Level 3 autonomous, which is even better – that means Autopilot takes over functions that are critical to driver and occupant safety.
But since Victor believes Level 3 autonomy is a bunch of cow manure, as drivers need to be ready to take over in more intricate situations at this level, he promised that Volvo will unveil a Level 4 autonomous car in 2017. That would be a vehicle that can drive itself autonomously without requiring a human driver to take over when the you-know-what hits the fan.
“In our concept, if you don’t take over, if you have fallen asleep or are watching a film, then we will take responsibility still,” Victor said in an interview with The Verge, talking about the experimental Level 4 car. “We won’t just turn (autonomous mode) off. We take responsibility and we’ll be stopping the vehicle if you don’t take over.”