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The director of autonomous integration at General Motors says claims by Tesla of its cars being able to conduct full level five SAE-certified autonomous driving are entirely false.

Speaking to the Australian media in Detroit today, Scott Miller, GM’s director of autonomous vehicle integration, said Elon Musk is “full of crap” when it comes to claims of the level five capability of current and upcoming Tesla vehicles.

READ: Autonomous levels explained

“To think you can see everything you need for a level five autonomous [car] with cameras and radar, I don’t know how you do that,” Miller said.

Miller went on to say that you can do a coast to coast (Los Angeles to New York City) highway drive with current level two or level three technology, so claims by Tesla that it can achieve such a feat with its vehicles doesn’t necessarily mean it has level five technology according to the SAE.

According to Tesla’s own website, all vehicles produced in their factory “have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability”. That appears to include at least eight cameras, one radar, and other sensors.

“To be what an SAE level five full autonomous system is, I don’t think he has the content to do that,” Miller stated.

According to Miller, General Motors will have the ability to produce level four autonomous driving vehicles “within quarters”, however, this technology will be used in a ride-sharing system before it becomes available to the general public.

“Level five SAE? I mean is there a test for what that is? I mean Audi is saying they are level three right now, who says that they are not? We could say we are level five right now with hands-off, but we are not. We put the customer in the middle of everything.

“The level of technology and knowing what it takes to do the mission, to say you can be a full level five with just cameras and radars is not physically possible. I think you need the right sensors and right computing package to do it. Think about it, we have LIDAR, radar and cameras on this. The reason we have that type of sensor package is that we think you need not be deeply integrated in to be level five, you should have redundancy.

“Do you really want to trust just one sensor measuring the speed of the car coming out of an intersection before you pull out? I think you need some confirmation. So, radar and LIDAR do a good job at measuring object speed, cameras do a great job at identifying objects. So, you can use the right sensor images to give you confidence in what you’re seeing, which I think is important if you’re going to put this technology out for general consumption.

“Could you do it with less and be less robust? Probably. But could you do it with what’s in a current Tesla Model S? I don’t think so.”


Above: Cadillac CT6 in SuperCruise mode.

General Motors expects to have fully autonomous vehicles in showrooms within the next 15 years. For now it has just launched its SuperCruise system on the Cadillac CT6 that allows level two autonomous driving on the highway.

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