Elon Musk wants Tesla to be perceived as “much more than an electric car company.” On Tesla AI Day, the CEO described Tesla as a company with “deep AI activity in hardware on the inference level and on the training level” that can be used down the line for applications beyond self-driving cars. The Tesla AI Day 2021 featured executives presenting the full range of the company’s artificial intelligence efforts, from computer vision to planning and controls to simulation to data infrastructure to automotive super computers to data center supercomputers. Elon Musk capped the event by announcing a humanoid robot that Tesla is developing
Tesla AI Day, which started after a rousing 45 minutes of industrial music pulled straight from “The Matrix” soundtrack. The fascinating event featured a series of Tesla engineers explaining various Tesla technology. Bu the sum of the day is simply that Tesla is doing a lot. Again and again Tesla reveals that it is building in-house software and hardware, tool and processes most tech companies would outsource to specialist suppliers. “There’s a tremendous amount of work to make it work and that’s why we need talented people to join and solve the problem,” said Musk. Although a lot of intense technological conversation were discussed, but here are the top four highlights and take home of the day.
This bit of news was the last update to come out of AI Day before the round of questions began, but was certainly the most interesting. After the Tesla engineers and executives talked about various Tesla inventions, there was a brief interlude where what appeared to be an alien go-go dancer appeared on the stage. This alien dressed in a white body suit with a shiny black mask as a face. Turns out, this wasn’t just a Tesla stunt, but rather an intro to the Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot that Tesla is actually building. Tesla CEO Elon Musk envisions a world with humanoid robot designed to complete dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks “the work people least like to do.” Mr. Musk explained the logic of applying Tesla’s robotics and AI expertise toward building non-automotive robots, calling Tesla, “arguably the world’s biggest robotics company.” With the progress on Tesla’s neural networks and hardware, Musk said, “it kind of makes sense to put that onto a humanoid form.” Although he predicted the first Tesla Bot prototype would come together next year, Musk also cautioned several times that the Tesla Bot “is not real.” Although Musk also promised that it “will be real. The bot is 5’8″, 125 pounds, can deadlift 150 pounds and Because everyone is definitely afraid of getting beat up by a robot that’s truly had enough, right? Mr. Musk added “We’re setting it such that at a mechanical and physical level, you can run away from it and most likely overpower it.” Tesla Bot is expected for some time next year.
Unveiling Computational Hardware.
Still part of the Tesla AI day, Tesla Senior Director of Autopilot Hardware, Ganesh Venkataramanan unveiled Tesla’s computer chip, designed and built entirely in-house, that the company is using to run its supercomputer, Dojo. Much of Tesla’s AI architecture is dependent on Dojo, the neural network training computer that Musk says will be able to process vast amounts of camera imaging data four times faster than other computing systems. The idea is that the Dojo-trained AI software will be pushed out to Tesla customers via over-the-air updates. The chip is called “D1,” and it contains a 7nm technology. Venkataramanan whom proudly held up the chip said the chip has GPU-level compute with CPU connectivity and twice the I/O bandwidth of “the state of the art networking switch chips that are out there today and are supposed to be the gold standards.” He walked audience and tech enthusiasts through the technicalities of the chip, explaining that Tesla wanted to own as much of its tech stack as possible to avoid any bottlenecks. Tesla introduced the next-gen computer chip last year, produced by Samsung, but it has not quite been able to escape the global chip shortage that has rocked the auto industry for months. To survive this shortage, Musk said during an earnings call this summer that the company had been forced to rewrite some vehicle software after having to substitute for alternate chips.
Full Self-Driving System
Many of the speakers at the AI Day event noted that Dojo will not just be a tech for Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) system, it’s very impressive advanced driver assistance system that’s also definitely not yet fully self-driving or autonomous. The powerful supercomputer is built with multiple aspects, such as the simulation architecture, that the company hopes to expand to be universal by opening up to other automakers and tech companies. Musk says “This is not intended to be just limited to Tesla cars, those of you who’ve seen the full self-driving beta can appreciate the rate at which the Tesla neural net is learning to drive. And this is a particular application of AI, but I think there’s more applications down the road that will make sense.” Musk added that Dojo is expected to be operational from next year, at that point we can expect talks o to n how this tech can be applied to many other use cases.
Tesla reiterated its vision-based approach to autonomy, an approach that uses neural networks ideally allow Telsa car to function anywhere on earth via its “Autopilot” system. Tesla’s head of AI, Andrej Karpathy, described Tesla’s architecture as “building an animal from the ground up” that moves around, senses its environment and acts intelligently and autonomously based on what it sees around. Andrej Karpathy explains how Tesla manages data to achieve computer vision-based semi-autonomous driving. ”So we are building of course all of the mechanical components of the body, the nervous system, which has all the electrical components, and for our purposes, the brain of the autopilot, and specifically for this section the synthetic visual cortex,” he said. Karpathy illustrated how Tesla’s neural networks have developed over time, and how now, the visual cortex of the car processes visual information, is designed so that information flows into the system more intelligently. The two main problems Tesla is working on solving with its computer vision architecture are temporary occlusions and signs or markings that appear earlier in the road.
Tesla’s ambition in artificial intelligence is absolutely breath-taking. Few companies have the resources to commit to even one of the several areas in which Tesla is breaking new ground. In the question and answer session at the end of the event, Musk predicted that Tesla’s computational hardware would outperform competitors’ because Tesla designs its hardware to accomplish one task, not many. Ironically, that same principle could apply to Tesla itself, as the company works on not only autonomous vehicles, but also building world-leading neural networks, data labelling, simulators, computational hardware, and humanoid robots.