The Latest: Tesla CEO says laser sensors aren’t necessary

The Latest on Tesla’s plans for fully-autonomous vehicles (all times local):

12:45 p.m.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says laser imaging sensors used by nearly all other autonomous vehicle developers are not needed.

The sensors called Lidar send out light beams that detect objects in the dark and other poor conditions. Many experts consider them essential, including those at Google spinoff Waymo and General Motors‘ Cruise Automation.

“Lidar is a fool’s errand,” Musk. “They’re expensive sensors that are unnecessary. It’s like having a whole bunch of appendixes.”

He also says Tesla has a huge advantage over autonomous vehicle competitors because it gathers a massive amount of data in the real world. He says this quarter Tesla will have 500,000 vehicles on the road, each equipped with eight cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar gathering data to help build the company’s neural network.

The network allows vehicles to recognize images, determine what objects are and figure out how to deal with them.


12:30 p.m.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has told investors that the company’s computer to enable its electric cars to become self–driving vehicles is powered by the best processing chip in the world.

Musk made the bold declaration Monday during an event that Tesla is hosting in Silicon Valley to show off its plans to give the owners of its cars the option to turn all the driving over to a robot.

Tesla had never made its own computer chip before it hired an ex-Apple engineer three years ago to design it. Now, Musk boasts the chip is better than any other on the market “by a huge margin.”

Many self-driving car experts believe Tesla’s cars still aren’t close to become fully autonomous.

Tesla is holding the event two days before it is scheduled to report a first-quarter loss after production and sales of its cars fell below expectations.


11:30 a.m.

A webcast showing Tesla’s presentation to investors on “full self-driving” vehicles has yet to begin more than 30 minutes after its scheduled start.

More than 40,000 viewers instead are watching a continuous loop of Teslas driving on bridges, highways and snow covered roads. There also are some factory scenes and horses galloping in the snow.

CEO Elon Musk was scheduled to detail his self-driving vehicle plans at the event for investors Monday. Reporters were not allowed to attend.

Some experts are skeptical that Musk has the technology to deliver fully self-driving vehicles safely.


6 a.m.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears ready to transform the company’s electric cars into driverless vehicles in a risky bid to realize a bold vision he has been floating for years.

The technology required to make that leap is scheduled to be shown to Tesla investors Monday at the company’s Palo Alto, California, headquarters.

Musk is so certain that Tesla will win the race toward full autonomy that he indicated in an interview that his company’s cars should be able to navigate congested highways and city streets without a human behind the wheel by no later than next year.

But experts say they’re skeptical whether Tesla’s technology has advanced to where its cars can be driven solely by a robot, without a human to take control if something goes awry.