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Tesla Full Self-Driving and Autonomous Driving Levels Explained

David Bartosiak
·4-min read

Full self-driving. That was the key takeaway from Tesla’s (TSLA) report the other night. Dave Bartosiak here with Trending Stocks. You can all kiss your Elon Musk effigies and light a couple candles at your shrines because he has done it again. The Teslarati are all polishing their Model 3…die-cast models on their desks in mom’s basement.

Last night, Tesla reported earnings of 76 cents per share, beating expectations calling for 55 cents. Revenues beat as well, coming in at $8.77 billion versus $8.29 billion. The goal for 2020 remains a half-million vehicle deliveries. The big story here was the company will see a wide release of its full self-driving feature by the end of this year. The full sell-driving price will go up by about $2,000 on Monday. Let’s just hope that the full self-driving mode doesn’t steer your Model 3 into a puddle, or you will have a new lightweight Model 3 without a rear bumper.

Now, let’s go through the 5 levels of autonomous driving here to clarify just what this means. Level 0, your 1998 Toyota Corolla. No automation, everyday car.

Tesla, Inc. Price and Consensus

Tesla, Inc. Price and Consensus
Tesla, Inc. Price and Consensus

Tesla, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Tesla, Inc. Quote

Level 1 – Driver Assistance. Here you have features like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. You can find these in nearly every new car out there. Your 2018 Toyota Corolla.

Level 2- Here is where it gets fun. This level can help with speed and steering. You can put this on in stop-and-go traffic and not have to worry about bumping into the Toyota Corolla in front of you. Tesla’s Autopilot is a Level 2 system. We got two more to go.

Level 3 – Conditional Automation. These vehicles can drive themselves but only under ideal conditions and with some limitations. If it’s sunny, clear, and you’re on a divided highway doing 65 mph. You can sit back, relax, still pay attention and get where you’re going without much worry. Originally, the 2019 Audi A8 was supposed to offer Level 3 autonomous driving. Audi gave up on the project in April of this year. Most would argue that Tesla’s “Full self-driving” is actually only Level 3 automation. You can see here, that Elon loves to sell the sizzle, not the steak. It’s a bit of a misnomer to call this full self-driving.

However, autopilot evolved over various iterations to become near Level 3 automation currently. There’s no reason why the current FSD feature can’t evolve as technology progresses. It may not be the misnomer it is now, in the near future. That is not a knock against your God Teslarati.

Level 4 – High Automation. Essentially, these cars drive themselves in most environments and road conditions. These cars can get you anywhere you need to go, autonomously, as long as you’re not trying to navigate a mountain road in a blizzard or a South Florida Highway during a hurricane.

Level 5 – Well, that’s just nirvana. Full automation, we don’t even need a steering wheel or pedals, we just hop in a giant Roomba and the robot takes care of the rest. The human occupants are just passengers and will never need to be involved in driving. Although I’m sure some of you back seat drivers will still talk garbage to the robot about its speed and lane choice.

Here’s the thing that some clueless analysts out there simply don’t get about Tesla. It’s not a car company anymore. It’s a data company. It’s an energy company. It’s a lithium mining company. I’ll leave you with this quote from Musk, “Having on the order of a million cars that are providing feedback, and specifically feedback on strange corner case situations that you just can’t even come up with in simulation – this is the thing that is really valuable.”

Every time you share this video, a Toyota Corolla drag races a Model 3, and loses. Subscribe to the YouTube Channel, Twitter @bartosiastics, check out our latest offer on Zacks.com/promo, our Home Study Course. And come back for the latest on Trending Stocks, I’m Dave Bartosiak.

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