Why Tesla Is Designing Chips to Train Its Self-Driving Tech

At a promotional event last month, Tesla revealed details of a custom AI chip called D1 for training the machine-learning algorithm behind its Autopilot self-driving system. The event focused on Tesla’s AI work and featured a dancing human posing as a humanoid robot the company intends to build.

Tesla is the latest nontraditional chipmaker to design its own silicon. As AI becomes more important and costly to deploy, other companies that are heavily invested in the technology—including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft—also now design their own chips…

“If you believe that the solution to autonomous driving is training a large neural network, then what followed was exactly the kind of vertically integrated strategy you’d need,” says Chris Gerdes, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford, who attended the Tesla event.