Elon Musk responds to Waymo CEO’s comments – claims “Tesla has better AI hardware and software”

It didn’t take long for Elon Musk to respond to Waymo CEO John Krafcik’s comments on Autopilot, with the Tesla CEO taking to Twitter to say “to my surprise, Tesla has better AI hardware and software than Waymo (money).”

The reply highlights the amount of funding that Waymo has received from investors outside its parent company Alphabet, which is a subsidiary of Google. Last year, the autonomous driving technology development company managed to raise USD2.25 billion in March, followed by an additional USD750 million in May for a total of USD3 billion.

Waymo has partnerships with several manufacturers to integrate its technology, including with Daimler AG, the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo.

The company also operates a robotaxi service called Waymo One in Phoenix, Arizona, and is currently testing Waymo Via, an autonomous driving solution for moving goods. Meanwhile, Tesla’s R&D budget from 2017 to 2019 were routinely over USD1.3 billion, although all that money is channelled to a variety of areas and not just autonomous driving systems.

Waymo’s funding initiative was brought up by Krafcik in his interview with Germany’s Manager Magazin, where he said that the company’s vehicles would cost “no more than a moderately equipped Mercedes-Benz S-Class,” Forbes reports. The S-Class in the United States is priced around USD100,000, while Tesla vehicles start at USD35,000 and are equipped with hardware that will support future self-driving capabilities.

In the same interview, Krafcik also said that Tesla isn’t a competitor in the field of self-driving vehicles, noting that the company is “developing a really good driver-assistance system” instead. Since then, Waymo has provided clarification on its CEO’s comments, which were paraphrased from a much lengthier statement.

As posted by Forbes, the full transcript of the interview includes Krafcik’s more detailed comments on Autopilot and its accompanying Full Self-Driving Capability (FSD) features, which still requires the driver to be ready to take over the steering wheel at all times.

“Tesla is a car company making a really good driver assist system. And I think Tesla does a really good job in their legal statements warning the drivers of those cars to pay attention, to keep their hands on the steering wheel, and reminding the human driver that they’re the ones in control of the car. So, no, Tesla is not a competitor at all. They’re a car company making a driver assist system. We’re a company making a fully autonomous driver,” said Krafcik at the time.

“One thing we do believe is that it’s a discontinuous step function between a driver assist system and a fully autonomous system. So, the idea that you can just someday magically leap from one to another is a big leap of judgement and faith,” he continued.

“Again, just based on the experience we’ve had, understanding what’s required from a sensing and perception standpoint compared to the sort of capabilities that are in the very basic and rudimentary driver assist systems that we see on the road today – it’s orders of magnitude difference in terms of sensor capabilities and sensor robustness.”

“And that’s just the first (step), right. After sensing and perception comes the really hard part of predicting the movement of all of the agents on the road in front of you and then planning your path around those agents. That takes massive, massive skills and massive capabilities in AI and machine learning competencies. I think it’s something that we’re very, very well suited for and are quite good at. I think it’s challenging for others to have that capability and also be good at making cars,” Krafcik adds.

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