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Tesla said on its Q2 earnings call that it has built and tested a new custom chip designed specifically for Autopilot. The company says it will be the “world’s most advanced computer for autonomous driving.”
Tesla owners will be able to swap Autopilot 2.0 hardware with the new computer next year.
Chief Executive Elon Musk offered a few specs, which are a massive improvement in performance over the previous hardware. For instance, the Nvidia GPUs powering 2.0 hardware are capable of processing 200 frames per second, while the new third generation hardware will process 2,000 frames per second.
Musk actually mentioned the project at the end of 2017 at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference. “I wanted to make it clear that Tesla is serious about AI, both on the software and hardware fronts. We are developing custom AI hardware chips,” he said at the time.
Tesla’s efforts were led by then Vice President of Autopilot Hardware Jim Keller, the former head architect for AMD and Apple. Keller has since left Tesla and the division is now led by Pete Bannon.
Bannon said Wednesday that Tesla has manufactured the chip and installed it in test vehicles. The new hardware suite will replace the existing computer in vehicles running Autopilot 2.0 and 2.5 hardware and move the vehicles closer to fully autonomous.
The company intends to continue making software improvements to the current hardware. Bannon said a new version of Autopilot will be released in about a month.