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Tesla’s autopilot isn’t special (but it’s still cool)

“We’ve been able to accelerate autopilot and bring it to market faster than originally anticipated,” Elon Musk said to a gathered throng at Hawthorne Airport last week, the ex-Northrop facility in Southern California that both Tesla and sister company SpaceX call home. “It’s actually in production. In fact, every car coming off the line at Tesla at the factory has the autopilot hardware.”

Musk has an outsized personality with a reputation for flair and hyperbole, and for the most part, he earns it: both Tesla and SpaceX have undertaken and delivered on profoundly large challenges that entire industries (and governments) have failed to overcome. And his preferred term of “autopilot” for the bundle of hardware and software installed on…

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