Many articles and films about the future of self-driving automobiles have been read, watched, and shared. Since Tesla just launched its Full Self-Driving Beta technology to a small number of trusted owners, most media has focused on Tesla. However, numerous businesses are working on self-driving technology, with Waymo being one of the most well-known. So, we have decided to make a Waymo vs Tesla comparison in continuation of the ongoing conversations surrounding these two.
The concept of a driverless car is not new. The self-driving car era started in the 1920s. Francis P. Houdina, who was an engineer in the United States Army, invented the technology to control the car via radio signals in 1925. He used an antenna to control the accelerator and brakes of a 1926 Chandler.
On July 27, his company staged a demonstration in New York City. Even though his demonstration was a failure due to the vehicle’s collision, it was a remarkable feat in many aspects. In the decades that followed, self-driving technology remained unattainable, but the concept piqued people’s interest.
There’s a great race going on currently, and it’s difficult to determine who will succeed in creating a perfect autonomous vehicle that drives like a person. Fortunately, Waymo and Tesla are now leading the race, with other businesses still attempting to compete. However, with numerous degrees of self-driving, it’s clear to observe the difference between them.
- What Is Waymo?
- Waymo’s Objectives
- The Specialties Of Waymo
- What Is Tesla?
- The Specialties Of Tesla Cars
- Waymo Vs Tesla
What Is Waymo?
Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company and systems engineering corporation specializing in developing self-driving or driverless car technologies. Google uses self-driving cars for services such as Google Maps’ Street View.
Waymo has collaborated with several automakers, including Audi, Toyota, and Lexus, to develop self-driving car technologies. Roush Enterprises also manufactures the company’s autonomous vehicle ideas. In 2015, Austin, Texas, hosted the first unaccompanied autonomous vehicle ride on a public road. The first trip was taken by primary engineer Nathan’s blind friend Stephen Mahan.
Waymo announced in early 2018 that it would start testing a driverless vehicle system in Phoenix by the year’s end. Alphabet is positioning Waymo to compete with its other competitors by offering an app-hailed, autonomous ride service.
Waymo sued their rival Uber in February 2017. They alleged that Uber had stolen trade secrets to launch their self-driving ride service. When three former Waymo employees left the business to join Uber, they allegedly took 9GB of data that contained hundreds of industry trade secrets.
In early 2018, Uber agreed to pay $244 million approximately in exchange for a guarantee not to violate Waymo’s intellectual property.
Waymo describes itself as a driverless tech firm rather than a driverless automobile firm. It does have a fleet of tens of thousands of driverless cars. All of which are outfitted with lidar and various sensors to enable driverless operation.
Waymo sees a future with fewer accidents as a result of weary, disoriented, and flawed human drivers and less traffic, and improved overall mobility. The technology developed by Waymo might then be used in personal automobiles, ridesharing services, haulage, and perhaps also public transportation.
The Kind Of Specialties Waymo Is Providing:
To discuss Waymo vs Tesla, we’ll have to talk about their specialties too. Different Waymo vehicles provide various kinds of specialties. So let us talk about them.
Waymo’s minivans have a fully-integrated hardware suite produced by Waymo that allows for complete self-driving. They are not your ordinary minivan, they have a Waymo-developed completely integrated hardware package that enables total self-driving. Radar, vision systems, and lidar are among the hardware components that enable autonomous operation.
Waymo’s sensors, according to its CEO, will have a 360-degree view of their surroundings. For example, lasers (lidar) can detect things from a distance of 300 meters distant and see them in 3D. Furthermore, Waymo’s radar can see beneath and around, detecting items that a physical driver would typically overlook.
Waymo also stated that its cars employ machine learning to recognize emergency vehicles and perform complex driving maneuvers.
While minivans have been the face of the Waymo fleet in some ways, the line received a premium boost in March 2018 when Jaguar I-Pace SUVs were announced to join the cause.
The I-Pace is Jaguar’s first electric car, and owing to the agreement with Waymo, 20,000 should be created in the first two years of production. Then, when Waymo’s driverless car service launches in the United States, these will be accessible to use.
What Is Tesla?
Tesla, known as the world’s leading electric car manufacturer, is another technological rival in the race to commercialize automated vehicles (AVs). However, the concept of self-driving automobiles predates Elon Musk’s Tesla vehicles.
Experiments on self-driving automobiles have been going on since the early 1920s, but the first notable improvements in this technology came during the early 2000s, with 2004’s DARPA Grand Challenge and 2007’s Urban Challenge.
The company started in 2003. A group of engineers came up with it as they believed that driving electric cars didn’t have to be a compromise and that they might be better. The company had said it would aim for Level 5 autonomy in its vehicles by 2021. Whether or not this is merely a rumor remains to be seen.
The Specialties Of Tesla Cars:
Again for the convenience of your better understanding of Waymo vs Tesla, we have discussed a few specialties that Tesla Cars provide:
Autopilot has been available since early 2015 as an add-on option to compliment your driving for a significant fee. As long as the driver keeps their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, the driving system will help with highway driving by auto-steering, keeping up with other vehicles, braking for slower traffic, and more.
Most such functions are now included in Tesla’s core safety system. However, there’s also Full Driverless mode, which promises to be hands-free and capable of stopping at traffic lights, performing lane changes automatically, and auto-steering on routes, including off highways, for a current upgrade price of $10,000. Only a few beta testers have access to the whole FSD package thus far. This is a rocky start for FSD mode, which has struggled in densely populated locations.
2. One TouchScreen
The Model 3 and Y are Tesla’s newest cars, and both have the same sparse cabin with a single center screen that controls everything you need to do, from driving the vehicle to listening to the radio to getting directions. There is no other car with such a simple layout. The lone screen even has the button to access the glove compartment.
Tesla has a charging network that is only available to Tesla customers. Other electric vehicles are beginning to develop their networks too, although none of them are as vast as Tesla’s. Supercharging is only available in the United States and other countries that sell Teslas.
There are over twenty thousand superchargers in the world. In 15 minutes, the quick charging may add up to 200 miles. Using a credit card placed into the auto computer, you can pay by the minute or by kilowatt, which is no longer free like it was in Tesla’s early days.
Waymo Vs Tesla: What Are The Differences?
Waymo and Tesla are at the vanguard of the self-driving car movement, so they have a front-row seat to this puzzle. Both have the same aim in mind: to carry passengers in autonomous vehicles securely, but their approaches are vastly different.
Waymo, which shares a parent company with Google, is introducing its self-driving cars in the guise of a Robo-taxi service quietly and gradually (or, you could learn how to drive for Uber). The business claims to have driven autonomously for well over 20 million miles without a single fatality.
On the other hand, Tesla has been releasing autonomous capabilities at a considerably faster pace. In September, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that customers with a clean driving record and who paid for the feature could seek to beta test the company’s “Full Self-Driving” technology.
It has more advanced driver assistance features than Tesla’s current semi-autonomous feature, Autopilot, which assists drivers with steering, braking, and acceleration within a lane. The business claims that the technology in new Teslas is capable of “complete self-driving in almost all scenarios” and is “intended to be able to perform short and long-distance excursions with no action necessary by the person in the driver’s seat,” but not the software, which is still being evaluated.
But when it comes to differences, these two have many. In this article, we are going to talk about Waymo vs Tesla differences in these categories:
- AV System
- Data Collecting
- Types Of Data
- Processing Challenges
Waymo Vs Tesla: Expertise
In our first Waymo vs Tesla Comparison, we will talk about both expertise. Google is both a search engine and a technological business that focuses on all aspects of information technology. In 2009, Google launched their self-driving car project, known as Waymo (an Alphabet unit).
According to Alphabet, Google’s self-driving car project was spun off into a separate standalone self-driving firm in 2016. Tesla is an American automotive and energy firm created by visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk specializing in electric cars, solar and space technology.
Waymo Vs Tesla: Experience
The next in our Waymo vs Tesla comparison is about the experience of these two. Waymo, arguably more than any of its opponents in the AV commercialization race, including Tesla, has substantial experience in AI deep learning, which is at the heart of autonomous vehicles.
Furthermore, Google has more excellent engineering expertise in developing an OS for AVs than almost any other organization. On the other hand, Tesla has built a reputation for creating an all-electric luxury vehicle from the ground up, utilizing largely Tesla-designed components and Autopilot software written by Tesla engineers.
Waymo Vs Tesla: AV System
AV System is our next topic in the comparison of Waymo vs Tesla. Waymo employs a more expensive in-house 64-beam LiDAR – the system’s brain – positioned on the car’s roof and sends 64 beams of light to gather information about the terrain. Then, it creates a 360-degree world model by merging real-time data from LiDAR and other sensors, such as cameras, with high-resolution maps of the road to predict movements for surrounding cars while avoiding obstacles and respecting traffic laws.
On the other hand, Tesla does not employ LiDAR and instead uses forward-looking camera technology from Mobileye, the world’s largest supplier of camera-based driver-assistance safety systems, to create a virtual picture of the surroundings.
Waymo Vs Tesla: Data Collecting
When it comes to Waymo vs Tesla, both are working to collect and interpret data to create a completely autonomous vehicle that can drive without human intervention, their approaches to data processing are fundamentally different.
Google employs sophisticated computer simulations and data from its fleet of cars that are being tested on real roads. On the other hand, Tesla is based on real-world data gathered from hundreds of thousands of Teslas operated by human drivers in SAE level-2 or level-3 automated driving mode.
Waymo is attempting to address machine learning challenges with limited data, whereas Tesla is trying to do so with plentiful data. The modus operandi of modern machine learning is to solve issues with a lot of data. Solving challenges with limited data is still a work in progress.
If Google or DeepMind were to achieve the breakthroughs needed to obtain as much neural network performance out of Waymo’s sparse data as Tesla gets out of its abundant data, the consequences would extend beyond self-driving vehicles to robotics in general and other machine learning applications. It would be a big event, and we’d be there to witness it.
Tesla’s fleet may experience a condition 1,200 times per year that Waymo’s fleet only encounters three times, due to Tesla’s fleet driving about 400 times as many miles per month as Waymo’s fleet. Waymo’s fleet only meets each other three times each year. Researchers are working on methods such as one-shot imitation learning, which might allow a self-driving car to learn from just one or a few examples of a situation. For the time being, it remains an unsolved issue.
Waymo Vs Tesla: Types Of Data
These two companies collect data at different scales, but they also collect data that is different. For example, three distinct types of LIDAR sensors, five radar sensors, and eight cameras are used in Waymo’s self-driving minivans. Tesla’s vehicles are similarly well-equipped, with eight cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors, and a forward-facing radar.
On the other hand, Tesla does not use LIDAR. Instead of radio waves, LIDAR sends out millions of laser light signals each second and calculates how long it takes for them to bounce back. If a car is parked in the appropriate area, this allows for creating a very high-resolution image of its surroundings in all directions (like the top of a car).
Moreover, because the sensors are their light source, it retains this precision even in the dark. This is critical since cameras perform poorly at night, and radar and ultrasound are less accurate.
LIDAR can be costly and big, and it also contains mechanical pieces that move (for now, at least). Musk recently referred to the technology as a “crutch,” arguing that while it makes things easier in the short term, businesses will need to master camera-based systems to keep costs low.
Waymo Vs Tesla: Processing Challenges
It’s one thing to collect data. However, even Musk admits that processing the data is challenging. “It’s quite a problem to process that data, then train against it, and have the car learn successfully from it,” Musk said on an earnings call last summer.
Waymo, on the other hand, appears to be more confident in their simulations. They recreate whole computer models of the places it’s testing in and send 25,000 “virtual self-driving cars” through them each day.
This enables Waymo to build a tight feedback loop by simulating real-world driving data on a computer, allowing “thousands of versions” of a situation to be tested. The data is subsequently uploaded to Waymo’s test vehicles. Waymo has also constructed a dedicated test center in California, where it can create specific street characteristics or stage scenarios that seem to cause the most problems for its vehicles.
Musk estimated that it would take around 6-billion miles to secure “global regulatory approval” of accurate self-driving technology in his second “master plan” for Tesla, published two years ago.
Even though Tesla’s cars have undoubtedly surpassed that milestone in terms of real-world mileage, they are still unable to drive themselves fully. The planned demonstration run of a Tesla driving itself from Los Angeles to New York in 2017 has been postponed, and the timeline for the ultimate version of Autopilot continues to slip.
Meanwhile, Waymo is approaching the six billion-mile mark on the simulation side, and the business is racking up virtual miles at a quicker rate than ever before, with thousands more test cars on the way. In addition, it wants to begin a commercial ride-hailing operation with its self-driving minivans later this year, which it is already testing in Arizona, potentially bolstering that data feedback loop even more.
Waymo Vs Tesla: Disengagements
A human safety driver takes control “once every five rides or so,” according to Waymo beta tester Reid Beer. So if rides are on average 8 miles long, there will be a disengagement every 40 miles. This is a far cry from the California DMV’s reported rate of one disengagement every 11,000 miles.
The California DMV does not request the total disengagement rate. Instead, it only wants safety-related disengagements: situations when a collision could have happened if the safety driver hadn’t acted. Safety-related disengagements appear to make up a small percentage of total disengagement.
Employees must determine whether a disengagement was caused by a safety issue, which is a subjective decision. For example, Cruise decided that running a red light wasn’t a justification for acting for safety reasons.
Tesla does not conduct fully autonomous testing on public roads in California. This was defined by the California DMV, and thus does not report any data to the DMV. As a result, it’s impossible to compare Waymo and Tesla’s safety-related disengagement rates. That’s even if we could guarantee that employees assess safety-related in the same way.
Waymo Vs Tesla: Others
Tesla’s vehicle requires a driver to be in the driver’s seat at all times. Thus, closely monitoring the technology and taking over when necessary; however, the cars are not restricted to driving in specific areas. Furthermore, the beta-testing situation allows the driver to see and experience the flaws. They could then correct the car’s behavior, and report them to Tesla. With Waymo’s technology, this isn’t the case.
The Tesla and the Waymo vehicles leave and are headed in the same direction. Waymo travels slowly and arrives in 8 minutes. Meanwhile, the Tesla with FSD Beta comes in just 5 minutes and 13 seconds. That is roughly 3 minutes and 13 seconds faster.
Waymo Vs Tesla: Summary
Waymo, formerly Google’s Self-Driving Car project, has more experience in AI deep learning — the heart of autonomous vehicles – than any of its competitors. It includes Tesla, in the AV commercialization race.
On the other hand, Tesla is a company that specializes in electric automobiles and goods, run by Elon Musk, a visionary leader. So, Waymo relies on computer vision to create a virtual picture of the surroundings using Mobileye’s forward-looking camera technology. Tesla, meanwhile, uses computer vision to develop a 360-degree global map to predict moves.
Both Tesla and Waymo are working to collect and interpret enough data to build an efficient self-driving car. And they’re going about solving those issues in quite a few different ways. Each represents another startup family, each with its unique goals and technical decisions.
Tesla uses the hundreds of thousands of cars it has on the road to collect real-world data on how Autopilot, the company’s current semi-autonomous system, works (and how it might work in the future). Waymo, which began as Google’s self-driving car project, uses sophisticated computer simulations and applies what it learns to a smaller fleet of real-world vehicles.
Self-driving automobiles are being developed for various purposes. This includes reducing traffic, saving human lives, enhancing healthcare, and gaining hours of productivity. It’s feasible — and proponents agree — that self-driving technology could save the 40,000 people who die due to car accidents yearly. However, there’s a significant financial incentive to get this data-driven tech out on the road as soon as possible.
Many firms are currently working hard to make the dream of self-driving automobiles a reality. However, in reality, today’s vehicles are already semi-autonomous systems. Thus the day of driverless cars is likely not far off. We hope that discussing Waymo vs Tesla helped you understand their future and many others in the following years.