It looks like the driverless car game is about to become much more competitive than it has been so far, as electric car company Tesla Motors has started working on an autonomous car project, and we should be able to see the results of that project in about three years. This means that Google should brace themselves for some serious competition, as so far, it has been pretty much the only company that has been able to develop an advanced autonomous vehicle technology. But, Google’s driver-less car is still undergoing tests and isn’t available for purchase, which is exactly what Tesla intends to accomplish, commercializing autonomous driving technology within the next couple of years.
Tesla’s plans were revealed by its CEO, Elon Musk, who has been making headlines recently with another highly innovative idea, the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system that could fundamentally change the way people travel. Musk said in an interview with the Financial Times that they hope to be able to offer a 90-percent autonomous car on the market by the end of 2016. This announcement is not a surprise at all, as Tesla Motors have made a name for themselves in the automotive world thanks to a series of innovative technological solutions. Recently, Tesla announced that they are hiring an engineer who is going to have to try and develop control algorithms for driver assistance systems, and the potential candidates are expected to have knowledge of autonomous driving technologies, which includes radars, sensors, and cameras, among other things.
However, the car won’t be fully autonomous, and the computer system will have control of 90 percent of the car, while the driver will be responsible for the other 10 percent of the control of the car. Tesla intends to use technology developed by its own team of engineers, instead of implementing an existing technology developed by Google or some other car maker. But, in any case, the computer system will do most of the work, while the driver will probably only have to start and stop the car. The reason why Tesla is hesitant to work on a fully autonomous car is that the technology needed for a semi-autonomous vehicle is much easier to develop and they will be able to start producing such a car much faster, in about three years, according to their estimates, while other car makers are expected to launch their driver-less cars in no less the 10-15 years. Musk himself has said that getting from 90 percent autonomy to 100 percent is incredibly difficult, and it’s going to take at least a decade to get there, even for Tesla, a company that has made huge advancements in automotive technology in recent years.
Apart from the autonomous driving technology, Tesla will be faced with another challenge, that has nothing to do with the development or production process of an autonomous car. It’s the legal issues regarding the potential liabilities involved in accidents caused by driverless cars, but these hurdles are expected to be overcome pretty soon, and Tesla’s autonomous car should be allowed to hit the streets once it’s ready.
Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “green cars” specialist. He is a writer for DMV.com, which is a collaborative community designed to help ease the stress and annoyance of “dealing with the DMV”.