Tesla’s fascinating self-driving car video shows us exactly what the vehicle ‘sees’

Trevor Mogg
Digital Trends

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Anyone who still can’t help but raise an eyebrow of nervous suspicion at the idea of self-driving cars should take a moment to check out the latest video from Tesla, a company that’s been making significant strides in the autonomous driving sector.

Tweeted over the weekend by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the video (above) shows us the kind of things that its self-driving Autopilot technology “sees” during a journey along regular roads. The demonstration reveals the speed at which the car’s cameras, radars, and sensors pick up on a slew of obstacles, from other vehicles to pedestrians to road signs.

This particular drive makes use of Tesla’s full self-driving hardware, a step up from the semi-autonomous version that its customers currently use. You’ll notice that there’s someone behind the wheel during the journey, but as a note at the start of the video points out, “The person in the driving seat is only there for legal reasons … He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.” Really, it is. And it’s pretty amazing.

Together with the regular view from inside the vehicle, the footage also shows the views from the left rearward vehicle camera, the medium range vehicle camera, and the right rearward vehicle camera.

Color codes along the bottom of the picture help you make better sense of all the incoming information, with the technology constantly monitoring elements such as motion flow, road flow, lane lines, in-path objects, and road signs.

And the journey isn’t a simple jaunt along an empty highway, although admittedly such a trip would still keep the car’s self-driving systems perfectly busy. Instead, we’re taken through a myriad of road junctions in Los Altos in Silicon Valley before hitting some equally challenging winding roads.

Watch the video several times and you’ll notice new things with every viewing. At the 40-second mark, for example, note how the cyclist coming from the right transforms from a blue “object” into a green “in-path object” as they pass in front of the high-tech Tesla car.

More: Every Tesla Model 3 will have full self-driving hardware

In the final seconds, the driver exits the vehicle, at which point it reverse-parks itself. It’s a great demo offering some real insight into what the car’s computers are up to as it navigates the road ahead.

Musk offered two versions of the video, a full-length sequence with a Rolling Stones soundtrack, and a shorter though merrier alternative guaranteed to delight Benny Hill fans.