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BMW CEO calls out Tesla’s Autopilot software as half-baked

Published Dec 4th, 2015 4:27PM EST
Tesla Autopilot Software

Tesla’s autopilot software may have a lot of people excited about a future filled with autonomous cars, but BMW CEO Harald Kruger is decidedly not impressed. During an interview with the German-language Handelsblatt, Kruger all but called Tesla’s autopilot software a half-baked product that won’t be able to compete with what BMW is working on.

Specifically, Kruger’s problems with Tesla’s autopilot software stems from an “app industry” culture that has no problem releasing software that isn’t fully finished.

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“Our aim is to be the technology leader. We can offer automated driving on the motorway up to 120 [74 mph] kilometers per hour,” Kruger explained. “But our technology must be 100 percent reliable. In the app industry, you can launch products on the market that are 70 to 80 percent ready and then complete their development with the customer. That is absolutely impossible with safety features in a car.”

As for Kruger’s intimation that Tesla released incomplete software, Ecomento adds:

Tesla has always maintained that the current version of Autopilot is a “public beta” version, and can only function under certain circumstances. When the software update including Autopilot was introduced, Elon Musk noted that the system does not work in inclement weather, and is best used in dense traffic with clear lane markings.

At a certain point, one has to wonder if it’s truly possible to release autopilot software with 100% reliability right out of the gate. To a certain extent, complex software of the variety that Kruger envisions can only be 100% safe after being tested by millions of users in a variety of driving environments. In other words, there is only so much that in-house testing can yield testers before consumer testing becomes necessary.

Indeed, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk was asked about this very point, he articulated how Tesla’s entire fleet of cars learn from each other.

“The whole Tesla fleet operates as a network. When one car learns something, they all learn it,” Musk said. “That is beyond what other car companies are doing,”

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.