A senior Volvo technical leader called Tesla’s autopilot technology an “unsupervised wannabe”, despite the system receiving praise from critics.
The Tesla autopilot system can completely take over driving on motorways, but will prompt drivers to take back control in case of emergency.
In an interview with The Verge, Trent Victor, Volvo’s senior technical leader of crash avoidance, said: “It gives you the impression that it’s doing more than it is. [Tesla’s Autopilot] is more of an unsupervised wannabe.”
He argues that Tesla is marketing a semi-autonomous system as one that’s fully autonomous.
Tesla says its technology is Level 2 autonomous — a combination of two technologies designed to make driving easier.
But many in the industry, such as Ford CEO Mark Fields, consider the system to be “Level 3 autonomous”, which means the driver can fully cede control of all safety-critical functions in certain conditions and senses when conditions require the driver to retake control, providing a “sufficiently comfortable transition time” for the driver to take over.
Level 3 autonomy is an unsafe solution, Victory said
Victor told The Verge that Volvo considers Level 3 autonomy to be an unsafe solution.
Volvo has plans to launch a public pilot of its Drive Me autonomous car, which it says is a Level 4 autonomous car capable of handling any situation that it comes across without any human intervention.
“In our concept, if you don’t take over, if you have fallen asleep or are watching a film, then we will take responsibility still,” Victor said. “We won’t just turn [autonomous mode] off. We take responsibility and we’ll be stopping the vehicle if you don’t take over.”
This is not the first time Tesla’s autopilot system has been criticised by a rival automaker. BMW recently said that the system “will not allow Tesla to overtake BMW in autonomous driving technology because it isn’t as refined as it should be.”