Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, is never short of grand, forward-thinking ideas. His resume reads like a laundry list of exciting technology, from PayPal to Tesla, to SpaceX and SolarCity. So it almost seems like a natural assumption that Musk wants to one day see “autopilot” technology in Tesla vehicles, so much so he has been in talks with Google to use their self-driving technology in Teslas.
Musk likes to call the autonomous driving tech “autopilot” merely because he says “self-driving sounds like it’s going to do something you don’t want it to do. Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”
Google’s cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are both investors in Tesla since its pre-IPO days. It doesn’t hurt when the company founders are all friends. Google has been testing out its self-driving cars out for awhile with out any accidents. While Google claims this tech will be ready to go in the next five years, automobile manufacturers are hinting at this technology at least a decade out.
As for the technology itself, Google currently uses Toyota Prius hybrids mounted with laser-radar devices to gauge traffic, speeds and everything else that is required to drive. While this technology has thus far proved to be effective, Musk believes optical systems (cameras) can do the same task but in a more cost effective manner.
Musk feels the technology is a natural transition from the safety technology in cars today. While Musk is excited about the prospect of driver-less technology, it isn’t a top priority for Tesla Motors, “accelerating the transition to electric cars” takes that spot. In fact in response to the Bloomberg article cited, Musk stated in a series of tweets:
Creating an autopilot for cars at Tesla is an important, but not yet top priority. Still a few years from production.
Tesla priority is electrification of cars, so priority is Model S, Model X, then mass market third gen vehicle & truck
Am a fan of Larry, Sergey & Google in general, but self-driving cars comments to Bloomberg were just off-the-cuff. No big announcement here
At any rate, driver-less technology looks to be something we will see more of in the future. Would you be up to ride along in a driver-less vehicle?