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Tesla Will Show Off a Computer for Autonomous Driving

By Daniel Sparks – Apr 3, 2019 at 2:01PM

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The hardware, which the company says is already in production, will enable autonomous driving with future software updates.

Tesla (TSLA 1.73%) wants to show investors the progress it has made on autonomous driving software and hardware, the company said in a press release Wednesday morning. To provide that insight into the company's autonomous vehicle development, Tesla has scheduled an event for investors later this month.

The news comes as Tesla has been releasing significant over-the-air software updates for its vehicles, including one that unlocked more driving range and improved acceleration for the long-range Model 3. CEO Elon Musk believes the sensors in its vehicles will be sufficient to eventually enable them to drive themselves. But he admits the company will need to retrofit its vehicles with a new computer, which Tesla wants to show off at its event this month.

Tesla Model 3 interior

Tesla's Model 3. Image source: Tesla.

Is Tesla's autonomous vehicle technology almost ready?

At the upcoming event, scheduled for April 19 at its headquarters in Palo Alto, California, Tesla will show off both software and hardware for autonomous driving. The event will include test drives for investors to experience the company's autopilot software, "including features and functionality that are under active development," Tesla said.

The biggest news from the automaker's update on Wednesday morning, however, was that Tesla's full self-driving (FSD) computer "is currently in production." The new computer "will enable full self-driving via future over-the-air software updates."

In addition, there are "a number of very exciting developments coming in the weeks and months ahead," the company said in the release.

In a series of tweets late last month, Musk said that the company's new FSD computer would be a free retrofit for anyone who paid for the full self-driving package when they bought their Tesla. "No change to vehicle sensors or wire harness needed," Musk said in one of the tweets. 

Looking for tangible progress

Of course, Tesla has been talking a big game for a while now. It was about two and a half years ago when the automaker started including sensors that the company said would eventually (after future software updates) enable autonomous driving in every vehicle it shipped. In addition, Tesla had initially planned to demonstrate one of its vehicles driving across the entire country autonomously by the end of 2017. It missed this date, and it's unclear when this drive will happen.

At the April 19 demonstration, investors should look for evidence of meaningful progress in self-driving technology.

Besides test drives of unreleased capabilities, Tesla's event later this month will feature a discussion with Musk, vice president for engineering Stuart Bowers, vice president for hardware engineering Pete Bannon, and the company's artificial intelligence chief Andrej Karpathy.

The event will be webcast, Tesla said.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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