An Honest Glossary of Terms Relating to Self-Driving, Mobility, Tesla, and More

Love Elon Musk or hate him, he’s right about the proliferation of fake news, both in general and as it pertains to self-driving technology. One necessary step in fixing the problem is coming to a consensus regarding the terminology we all use around subjects like self-driving, autonomy, and mobility. As there is no definitive public resource for this, I assembled a rough but honest guide to the terms you should know.


  • Next-generation high-speed cellular networks. 5G is not necessary for truly autonomous self-driving car—i.e. not reliant on external infrastructure and capable of functioning in any and all conditions—but absolutely essential for the profitable monetization of passengers in a self-driving car.
  • The foundational element of Black Mirror-inspired startups like Vugo, that seek to offer video content in shared autonomous vehicles by converting them into a dystopian hell.
Hell, thy name is connectivity. I'll take self-driving cars, but you can keep your connectivity.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

  • A broad term covering partially-automated automotive technologies, including radar cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane keeping.
  • A marketing term for minimum viable automation, or whatever carmakers can rush to market so as to not to be appear to be behind perceived safety leaders like Volvo.
  • Technologies which may or may not have anything to do with safety, but are often lumped in with safety technologies, like anti-lock brakes.
  • Level 2 systems that suck. (See below: SAE & SAE Automation Levels)

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • A vague and essentially worthless term covering any decision-making by machine.
  • How self-driving cars will function in the future.
  • How to raise VC money (2007-present) assuming you've got a guy with a Hungarian last name attached to your business plan.
  • The temporary—and illusory—state of human cognition while at Burning Man.
  • Steven Spielberg's 6th worst film after Ready Player One, The BFG, Hook, War Horse and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, except for the last two minutes when they find Haley Joel Osment frozen in the ice, which is awesome.


  • Any repetitive task performed by a machine.
  • What is happening to journalism as original reporting is replaced by reposting with bare-minimum commentary/reframing.


  • Independence and/or freedom of action.
  • Any form of automation with exaggerated capabilities.

Autonomous Car/Vehicle

  • Vehicles that don't exist yet, and won't for a long time. (See Geotonomous Car/Vehicle)


  • A system used to control the trajectory of an aircraft without constant "hands-on" control by a human operator.
  • The brand name for Tesla's ADAS suite.
  • How you market ADAS to people who don't have pilot's licenses, and who don't ask why planes still have pilots.
  • The term used by people who don't understand what Tesla Autopilot does, or how it works, to describe any hands-off driving technology.

Autopilot Buddy

  • An aftermarket Tesla Autopilot "Nag Reduction Device" designed for those who think they know better than Tesla's engineers, and who don't want to commit suicide alone.
  • A Tesla-owning friend who insists on demonstrating Autopilot even when you ask them not to.

Big Data

  • Critical phrase for any business plan from 2016 on (if data is new the oil, then more must be better, right?).

Car Sharing

  • How to make friends (1905-2015).
  • How to raise VC money (2010-2016).
  • How not to raise VC money (2017 forward).


  • What self-driving car companies need in order to sell passengers content, goods and services, without which the $80 billion spent so far on R&D cannot be recouped.
  • What self-driving developers need to deploy cars incapable of operating independently. (Se: 5G)

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

  • An electronic circuit that performs programming instructions.
  • What Intel claims is the best processing solution for self-driving cars. (See: Graphics Processing Unit)

Deep Learning

  • When AI gets more "intelligent" by moving past simple rules-based logic.
  • How to raise VC money (2016-present).
  • What many investors in Tesla, self-driving, and mobility will learn the hard way (NOTE: DOES NOT TRACK. THOSE INVESTORS WILL LEARN "DEEP LEARNING" THE HARD WAY?).


  • What you want to be doing to the other guy.
  • What you you claim to be doing even when it's being done to you.
  • A red flag when included on any CV or social media bio.

Driver Monitoring System (DMS)

  • A system to monitor a driver's state of engagement, meant to ensure said driver's ability to maintain and/or take over control of a vehicle, comprised of sensors monitoring biometrics, hand and/or head and/or eye position.
  • Something Tesla should have included before deploying Autopilot.
  • Something Cadillac doesn't get enough credit for deploying in SuperCruise.
  • What every car should have, if anyone cared about real safety.


  • The world's finest website for learning about the glorious and inevitable future of electric vehicles, especially Tesla.
  • An incredibly biased website devoted to reprinting barely disguised press releases, seemingly on behalf of Tesla.
  • A site that would fail any objectivity test, run by cynics who have blocked almost every credible automotive journalist from following them on Twitter.
  • A site you should never, ever read, unless you are researching a paper on the annihilation of journalistic ethics.

Electric Vehicle (EV)

  • A vehicle powered only by electricity.
  • Vehicles that sucked until the arrival of the Tesla Model S.

Electrified Vehicles

  • What companies lacking an EV in their lineup call their hybrids.
  • A cynical marketing deflection by companies rushing to catch up to Tesla and GM.

Fleet Learning

Full Self-Driving

  • A meaningless term used by Tesla in an apparent effort to avoid classification of a future self-driving system within the SAE Automation Levels (see below).
  • Something that better arrive before the first Tesla customers who paid $3,000 for it see their leases expire, at which point there's going to be another class action lawsuit.

Geotonomous Car/Vehicle

  • An automated vehicle capable of functioning without human input within a clearly defined geographic area.
  • A term I came up with in this brilliant article.

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

  • A specialized electronic circuit designed to accelerate image and graphics processing.
  • What NVidia claims is the best processing solution for self-driving cars. (See: Central Processing Unit).

Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)

  • What propels almost every car and bus on the planet.
  • What will go away, if you believe Elon Musk.
  • What will never go away, if you don't.

Level 0

  • A horse.

Level 1

  • Any car in which a crash is always a driver's fault.

Level 2

  • Any car in which the driver can pretend a crash wasn't his fault.

Level 3

  • What carmakers call half-backed self-driving functionality, which their marketers want to release despite objections by the lawyers.

Level 4

  • What Waymo is doing, and what everyone else wishes they were.

Level 5

  • BS, at least for the foreseeable future.

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)

  • A laser used to detect objects and terrain features.
  • What Elon Musk says you don't need to deploy "full self-driving" Teslas.
  • What almost everyone else on the planet thinks you DO need to deploy self-driving cars.


  • The best, fastest version of any Tesla.
  • The idea that flying cars are coming. Soon, if ever.
  • The auto industry's efforts to bring a "Tesla-killer" to market (so far).
  • How cool the Porsche Mission-E looks.
  • How much positive media coverage Tesla has gotten.
  • Elon Musk's suggestion that "the media" has victimized him.


  • The ability to move, possessed by most living things since the dawn of time.
  • How to raise VC money (2015-present).

Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas)

Model Y

  • Tesla's upcoming crossover.
  • What Tesla should have called the X.

Over-The-Air Updates (OTA)

  • A method of wirelessly updating vehicular software, commercially popularized by Tesla.
  • The shame of the rest of the auto industry, still shackled to dealerships who will do anything to stifle innovation and prevent OTA.


  • The coordinated operation of multiple self-driving vehicles in a convoy, meant to increase road capacity and efficiency.
  • When two or more companies duplicate the business model of a first-mover and hope for the best.
  • A word you add to your business plan if trucks are even tangentially involved.
  • Watching two Oliver Stone movies back-to-back on TBS because your Netflix account expired.

Range Anxiety

  • The fear or worry experienced by the rider of a horse (or other animal) who may be unable to reach a desired destination due to lack of food, water and/or rest. Solved via ridesharing (i.e. Pony Express) and the advent of the motorcar.
  • The fear or worry experienced by the driver of an ICE vehicle who may be unable to reach a desired destination due to lack of fueling infrastructure. Solved via a nationwide network of gas stations.
  • The fear or worry experienced by the driver of an EV who may be unable to reach a desired destination due to lack of charging infrastructure.
  • Something Tesla has solved near most major cities/highways in Western Europe and USA.
  • Something that no longer makes sense in new Teslas, which have ranges equal to the average American family sedan of decades past.

Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)

  • A well-intentioned professional association and standards developing organization whose principal emphasis is on transport industries such as automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicles.
  • An organization that invites me back to speak every year, despite internal opposition to my relentless attacks on the SAE Levels of Automation.

SAE Levels of Automation

  • The conceptually vague taxonomy which places automation and human-input in a zero-sum relationship, in a failed attempt to classify automated vehicles that utterly ignores precedent in commercial aviation.
  • A system of thought that omits safety technologies that don't fit and restricts out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Something that should be ignored except to criticize companies who attempt to associate their products with it.


  • An almost meaningless term describing perceived absence of danger.
  • A term frequently exploited by self-driving developers to conceal uncertainty over the actual value proposition of autonomous vehicles.
  • A term frequently exploited by self-driving developers to conceal uncertainty over the safety of their vehicles.
  • Something most people don't actually care about, even if they say they do.
  • Something a lot of people began talking about as soon as it become profitable, or potentially profitable.


Solar City

  • What Dubai should be, but isn't.
  • Elon Musk's other company, now merged with Tesla, which no one enjoys talking about.


  • How smart car manufacturers will pull a Hail Mary and annihilate car dealerships as we know them.
  • The coolest thing about Cadillac, and the least well-known. (See my op-ed.)


  • Remote control for cars and trucks.
  • An interim solution to driverless cars/trucks, in the absence of actual self-driving technologies.
  • Something that may be more profitable than self-driving, especially the longer it takes for self-driving to arrive.

Tesla Supercharger

  • The only EV charging network that's any good. For now.
  • The most valuable or worthless part of Tesla's portfolio, depending whom you ask.
  • A great place to go cruising to meet like-minded individuals. But only if you own a Tesla.

Transition Warning Systems

I could go on, but this seems like a good start. Corrections? Omissions? Please share in the comments.

Alex Roy is founder of the Human Driving Association, editor-at-large at The Drive, host of The Autonocast, co-host of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and author of The Driver. He has set numerous endurance driving records, including the infamous Cannonball Run record. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Journalists Killed When Tree Fell on Car in Storm

WYFF anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were killed Monday afternoon when a tree fell on the car they were traveling in, reports ABC News.

McCormick and Smeltzer were out in subtropical storm Alberto, reporting on the storm and damage around Polk County, North Carolina. They were traveling along Highway 176 when strong winds and soft ground uprooted a tree, which is estimated to have fallen 30 feet before crashing on top of their car as they passed under it. They had just completed an interview with Tryon Fire Chief Geoff Tennant, who was called to the accident just ten minutes later.

Subtropical storm Alberto is the first named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, according to The Weather Channel. It formed in the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall Monday near Laguna Beach, Florida, and tracked north all the way through Michigan to Lake Huron.

Although North Carolina was not in Alberto's direct path, the storm brought two to four inches of rain to the Carolinas in a short period of time, triggering landslides. The saturated ground also caused the tree that killed the two journalists to fall.

Additionally, CNN reports that a Toyota Prius was swept away in a flash flood on Wednesday. Two occupants were seen exiting the car, but could not escape the waters overflowing Ivy Creek before being swept away themselves. One of them was later found dead, and the other is still missing. Two other people were found dead in a Boone, North Carolina home after a landslide had destroyed it.

NASCAR Champion Martin Truex Jr. Honored in Home State

Reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr., a native of Mayetta, New Jersey, was honored in his home state on Thursday, with Gov. Phil Murphy declaring May 31 Martin Truex Jr. day. In return, Truex presented the governor one of his race-worn firesuits.

“Being from New Jersey and thinking about having my own day is pretty crazy, so it was a big day for me,” Truex said in a press release from his Furniture Row Racing team. “It was a huge honor to be recognized by [Gov.] Murphy for Furniture Row Racing’s achievements as a team. I’m very proud to be from New Jersey and to be the first NASCAR Cup Series champion from the state is pretty awesome, as well. All that made today very special.”

Truex’s racing career began in his home state with go-karts and modifieds in the 1990s. In 1999, he won the Turkey Derby Classic at Wall Township Speedway.

Truex won a Cup Series-leading eight races in his 2017 championship season, including the season-finale last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His post-season honors included being named "New Jersey Sportsperson of the Year". On May 21, 2018, his championship efforts were recognized by President Donald Trump at the White House.

In his championship season, Truex's stats also included 19 top fives and 26 top 10's in the 36-race season.

Truex has been a full-time competitor in NASCAR’s premier series since 2006, first racing for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Michael Waltrip Racing before joining Furniture Row Racing ahead of the 2014 season. In all, he has made 454-career starts in the series, resulting in 16 wins.

Truex heads into Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, fifth in the championship points standings and with a win at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. In addition to his win, he has eight top-five finishes in the first 13 races of the season.

Prior to his move to the Cup Series, Truex won consecutive championships in the NASCAR Busch (now-Xfinity) Series in 2004 and 2005.

Ford F-Series and Expedition Dominate May Sales Despite Higher Fuel Prices

Ford's line of trucks continues its dominance over the U.S. automotive market, as well as the Blue Oval's balance sheet. Sales of F-Series trucks posted an 11.3 percent gain last month, making for the best May performance since 2000.

The Dearborn-based automaker managed to sell 9,368 more trucks in May this year compared to 2017, for a total of 108,605 trucks finding a home over a four-week period of time. May's results also mark 13 consecutive months of sales gains for the F-Series.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor.

When it comes to SUVs, the demand for the all-new Expedition seems to defy logic especially with gas prices drastically spiking across the country. Retail sales of the three-row SUV are up a whopping 41.8 percent, with a total of 5,223 units departing dealership lots in May. According to Ford, Expeditions are only averaging 19 days on dealer lots, compared to the average of 40 to 50 days for most mainstream models.

Unsurprisingly, Ford claims that sales of passenger cars such as sedans and hatchbacks are down 13.8 percent this year, which ties into the brand's decision to focus primarily on crossovers, SUVs, and trucks in the near future.

One non-truck or non-SUV that's rebelling against consumer trends is the Ford Mustang, which posted a sales gain of 10.7 percent with a total of 8,739 units sold last month.

2018 Ford Expedition.

Last but not least, the Expedition's fancier cousin, the Lincoln Navigator, flew off dealer lots with retail sales up triple digits—122.4 percent to be precise. The Motor Company sold 1,837 units in May, compared to 826 last year.

We will have to wait and see whether the recent fire at the Meridian Magnesium plant that forced F-150 production to halt will affect June or July's sales figures. Ford claims to have nearly 300,000 trucks in gross stock (including in-transit), and 231,286 in dealer stock as of May 31.

Uber Mulling Benefits Package For Drivers, CEO Says

By classifying its drivers as independent contractors, Uber saves lots of money on benefits. It's a central pillar of the ride-hailing company's business model. But at Recode's Code Conference, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company is looking into offering some form of benefits package to its drivers.

Khosrowshahi said Uber wants to "think about independent workers not being a second-class citizen," and that the company is looking at ways to "economically build our benefits package and insurance so that this can be a safer way of living, while at the same time, being your own boss." The Uber CEO said drivers in Europe already get insurance.

Uber and other ride-hailing companies have been criticized for using drivers' status as independent contractors as an excuse to take advantage of them. Uber has repeatedly insisted that most of its drivers work relatively few hours in between other jobs, or personal obligations like school or raising children. The company's position has been that most drivers don't rely on ride-hailing services as their primary source of income and that the more flexible freelancer arrangement is in their best interest.

But not everyone buys that argument. While a federal judge recently ruled that Uber drivers are contractors, not employees, and thus not entitled to benefits, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has subpoenaed documents from both Uber and rival Lyft as part of an investigation into driver pay. Herrera said he wanted to ensure Uber and Lyft are meeting standards laid out in a recent California Supreme Court decision requiring companies to affirmatively prove that workers are independent contractors.

Uber has made more of an effort to help out its drivers recently, but offering insurance and benefits would be a major change for the company, one that could be a boon to its drivers. Yet Uber's ultimate goal remains to replace human drivers with autonomous cars. While its self-driving car program is currently stalled in the wake of a fatal crash, Uber hopes to resume testing soon.

Alfa Romeo to Announce 641-HP Giulia Coupe and Large SUV in June

A few weeks ago, we reported on a rumor first published by Autocar that Alfa Romeo is apparently working on a 641 horsepower variant of the Giulia coupe. Now, the publication is reporting that Alfa Romeo is expected to announce a new range of performance hybrid models and a new large SUV in June.

The plans will be announced by Sergio Marchionne, boss of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, at the Balocco test track.

As of now, we know that the Giulia coupe will be offered with two variants of the hybrid powertrain. The base version will be based on the Giulia's 276-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and the more powerful variant will be based on the Giulia Quadrifoglio's 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine, FCA confirmed.

The 2.0 version is expected to produce a combined power output of 345 hp while the 2.9-liter version is expected to produce a combined power output of 641 hp, making it the most powerful engine ever fitted to a road-going Alfa Romeo model in the company's history. For comparison, the V-8 found in the Ferrari 488 produces just 20 more horsepower.

The high-performance energy recovery system (ERS) drivetrains are derived from the HY-KERS powertrain developed by Ferrari and Magneti Marelli for the LaFerrari hypercar. These new hybrid systems are claimed to be more advanced than ones currently used in Formula 1 cars, according to Autocar.

In addition to the sedan, the Giulia coupe could also be offered as two and five-door variants, similar to the Audi A5 and A5 Sportback. The new Giulia body styles are expected to be launched in 2019.

Besides the Giulia coupe, the new large SUV, a vital model for Alfa Romeo in the U.S., will be based on the Stelvio platform, Autocar reports. The large SUV will be offered with a mild hybrid system and an electric turbocharger powered by a 48-volt electrical system, and FCA spokesperson confirmed.

Compared to the Stelvio, the new large SUV is expected to be 200 kilograms (441 pounds) heavier and a seven-seat version could also be offered as well. The new large SUV is expected to go on sale in late 2019.

Even though the new hybrid power plants focus heavily on performance, Alfa Romeo engineers claim that they will also be more fuel efficient and produce fewer emissions.

By adding the Giulia coupe and especially the large SUV to its portfolio, Alfa Romeo is hoping that these two new models will generate more interest in automobile consumers and potentially increase its market share in the highly competitive U.S. automobile industry.

More details are expected to be revealed about the Giulia coupe and its high-performance variants by Mr. Marchionne later this month.

The Drive reached out to FCA for additional details on these two vehicles, but a spokesperson declined to comment further.

Musk, Malala, and a Red Tesla Roadster

Twitter exploded with delight Thursday as electric car mega mogul, Elon Musk and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Malala Yousafzai exchanged tweets.

What started out as a satirical article from The Onion’s sister site, ClickHole, Wednesday, poking fun at the EV executive’s recent public relations fiascos, turned into a beautiful back and forth showing both Musk and Yousafzai had a sense of humor.

The site's headline read: "More Bad Press For Elon: The Car Elon Musk Launched Into Orbit Has Fallen Back Down To Earth And Crushed Malala Yousafzai." It looked like a horrible topic to joke about but produced Twitter gold.

"Hello from the other side," Yousafzai replied tagging Musk. The global education advocate responded to the ClickHole article with the perfect pop-culture punctuation—a line from pop singer Adele’s hit song, Hello.

Musk responded with a “Hi Malala” and included the ghost emoji to indicate he got the afterlife joke Yousafzai had made.

The best part is when Yousafzai said, “I’m keeping the car, btw!”

The car Yousafzai referred to is the Midnight Cherry Red Tesla Roadster that went up with Musk’s SpaceX launch Feb. 6.

Starman in Red Roadster

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Feb 4, 2018 at 9:50pm PST

After launching at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Musk's first-generation red Roadster ended up in orbit on its way toward the Sun and eventually Mars. It also became an official celestial object in the NASA database.

Even though it's all in jest, it may not be a bad Tesla to own, although there’s no telling what its condition will be like once or if it reaches the red planet.

However, it might be better for Yousafzai to just get on the list for the next-generation Tesla Roadster, which was revealed in November. It's a four-seat, all-wheel drive with three individual electric motors. The car has a 200 kilowatt-hour battery, a 620-mile range, and 7,375 pound-feet of torque. And it's fast. Zero-to-60 mph in 1.9 seconds.

Its base price will be $200,000 when it's available in 2020. Perhaps Musk could offer to put Yousafzai at the top of the list.

You Can Now Build a Bugatti Chiron With This 3,599-Piece Lego Set

Lego's licensed Bugatti Chiron set launches today as a part of the company's line of "Technic" products, which resemble the mechanical function and structures of the machines upon which they based.

This set is priced at $350 and sold through Lego's own online and brick-and-mortar retail network. It will arrive at other retailers on Aug. 1.

At 3,599 pieces, it approaches but does not quite take the title of most complex Lego Technic vehicle ever released, as it is more complex than the old Porsche 911 GT3 set, but less so than the company's current "Bucket Wheel Excavator" at 3,929 pieces. The Chiron set, when assembled, comes in at 22 inches long, nine inches wide, and five inches high.

Like the real car, the one-eighth scale Lego Chiron comes with a shiftable eight-speed transmission, functional steering, and the speed key, which toggles the rear wing's position between handling and top-speed modes. All 16 pistons inside the car's W-16 engine move up and down, and inside the car, a branded Bugatti overnight bag can be found, along with a serial number exclusive to each set.

"I am very excited about this new model. Our Lego designers have done an amazing job capturing the details of this iconic Bugatti design," stated Lego CEO Niels B. Christiansen in a company press release. "It truly stands as testament that with Lego bricks you can build anything you can imagine, and an example that with Lego Technic, you can build for real. It’s a huge model that I can't wait to start building myself. I’ve always been passionate about engineering and this model's details and design are truly fascinating."

"Thanks to their proven design and technology expertise, the Lego Group and Bugatti are the epitomes of their brand segments," chimed in Stephan Winkelmann, president of Bugatti. "The Lego Technic model of the Bugatti Chiron is an expression of this perfect relationship. I am impressed at the precision and refinement with which our super sports car has been translated into the Lego world and I am sure that fans of both Lego bricks and Bugatti will love this product."

$350 may seem like a bargain when compared to the real Chiron, which starts at about $3 million, or around 8,570 times the price of the Lego kit. Once constructed, however, the reality hits that one will need to find a place to store the colossal model, which dwarfs some coffee table photo books. The average toy chest won't do, as the model is too big and more complex than a child's plaything—hence the 16-plus age recommendation on its box.

Lego won't discuss the constructed weight of the Chiron set yet but based on our experiences with other Lego sets in the thousands of pieces, its assembled weight could likely come in at around seven pounds, so it is best not left in a precarious place where it can roll away to replicate that famous Veyron insurance fraud video.

We can also imagine that the set's interactive features will lose their appeal after a few uses, and may be forgotten until you have company over asking why you spent $350 on a Lego set. The retracting rear wing can basically function as a party trick for introverts, after all.