Tesla ‘AI Day’: What to Expect From Elon Musk’s Event on Artificial Intelligence
It’s been nearly two years since Tesla’s first “Autonomy Day” event, at which CEO Elon Musk made numerous lofty predictions of autonomous vehicles, including his infamous claim that the company would have “one million robotaxis on the road” by the end of 2020.
This time, the event will be called “AI Day,” and according to Musk, the “sole goal” is to persuade experts in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence to come work at Tesla. The company is known for its high rate of turnover, the latest being Jerome Guillen, a key executive who worked at Tesla for 10 years before recently stepping down.
The August 19th event is scheduled to start at 5 PM PT / 8 PM ET at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. According to an invitation obtained by Electrek, it will feature “a keynote by Elon, hardware and software demos from Tesla engineers, test rides in Model S Plaid, and more.”
A lot has happened between the 2019 event and now. Last month, Tesla began shipping over-the-air software updates for FSD beta v9, its long-awaited, not autonomous, but certainly, advanced driver-assist system. That means that Tesla owners who have purchased the FSD option would finally be able to use many of Autopilot’s advanced driver-assist features on local, non-highway streets, including Navigate on Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, AutoPark, Summon, and Traffic Light and Stop Control.
Loved by fans, the FSD software has gotten Tesla in a lot of hot water recently. In recently publicized emails between Tesla and California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the company’s director of Autopilot software made it clear that Musk’s comments (including his tweets) do not reflect the reality of what Tesla’s vehicles can do. And now Autopilot is under investigation by federal regulators who want to know why Tesla’s with Autopilot keeps crashing into emergency vehicles.
Aside from the rollout of FSD beta v9, Tesla has also had to adjust to the global chip shortage. In a recent earnings call, Musk said that the company’s engineers had to rewrite some of their software to accommodate alternate computer chips. He also said that Tesla’s future growth will depend on a swift resolution to the global semiconductor shortage.
Outside the car, Tesla uses a powerful supercomputer to train the AI software that then gets fed to its customers via over-the-air software updates. In 2019, Musk teased this “super-powerful training computer,” which he referred to as “Dojo.”
Elon Musk later tweeted, “Tesla is developing a [neural net] training computer called Dojo to process truly vast amounts of video data. It’s a beast!” He also hinted at Dojo’s computing power, claiming it was capable of an exaFLOP, or one quintillion (1018) floating-point operations per second. That is an incredible amount of power.
By way of comparison, chipmaker AMD and computer builder Cray are currently working with the US Department of Energy on the design of the world’s fastest supercomputer, with 1.5 exaFLOPs of processing power.
When completed, Dojo is expected to be among the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. But rather than performing advanced calculations in areas like nuclear and climate research, Tesla’s supercomputer is running a neural net to train its AI software to power self-driving cars.
Earlier this month, Dennis Hong, founder of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at UCLA, tweeted a photo of a computer chip that many speculate is the in-house hardware used by Tesla’s Dojo. Asked on Twitter whether his lab was working with Tesla, Hong posted some playful emojis but otherwise declined comment.
Musk has been forthcoming about his desires for Tesla to become more than just a car company. “I think long term, people will think of Tesla as much as an AI robotics company as we are a car company or an energy company,” he said earlier this year.