While there may be subtle improvement in Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta since its first iteration was launched back in October, Waymo CEO, John Krafcik, seems to have an impression that there is a limit for Tesla’s current autonomous driving efforts. In an interview with the German business publication manager magazin, Krafcik had said that the electric car maker is never a competitor to Waymo, seeing Tesla’s tech as just a “really good driver assistance system.”
Waymo’s vehicles, equipped with a different kinds of sensors including LiDAR, are built to be operated to be driverless.
Waymo has even asked its users not to touch its autonomous cars’ steering wheel while the cars are in operation.
In contrast, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta, and also the company’s tech Navigate on Autopilot, still need human touch as drivers still need to keep their hands on the steering wheel in preparation for manual involvement.
Tesla’s aim, which is to design a full self-driving suite via a vision-based system that depends on incremental improvements, will be rolled out over time.
Through steady updates which are developed on real-world driving data collected and gathered from its fleet, Tesla is hoping to roll out a version of its FSD suite which will totally be a hands-off system.
Once Tesla achieves this, the Electric Vehicle(EV) maker aims to starts its own ride-hailing service, dubbed by Elon Musk as the Robotaxi Network.
According to the John Krafcik, this is a misconception. He also observed that between Tesla’s camera-based approach and Waymo’s more robust sensor suite, his company’s sensors is of better advantage over Tesla’s electric cars.
“It’s a misconception that you can just keep developing a driver assistance system till a day you can miraculously leap to a fully autonomous driving system. In terms of robustness and accuracy, take an example, our sensors are orders of magnitude better than what is seen on the road from other manufacturers,” said Krafcik.
One of the noted criticism against Waymo’s autonomous vehicles is their high cost, especially when considering their sensor suite which includes expensive components.
However, the CEO, noted that the cost of its cars are really overestimated, most especially as the price of some sensors such as LiDAR has clearly gone down over the years. Today, Krafcik believes that the cost of a Waymo car is actually on the same range as a moderately-equipped Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
John Krafcik also noted that he is expecting the cost of hardware per mile of Waymo’s autonomous cars to come in at about $0.30/mile before maintenance and service costs, this includes fleet technicians and customer support services.
Today, comparing this to ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft, who are operating at about $2-$3/mile.
Tesla, however, on the other hand, aims at achieving an $0.18/mile operating cost for its Robotaxi Network.