According to some strong rumors and hints, it's looking like Tesla, makers of all-electric luxury vehicles, is working on a self-driving car. The first hint is that Elon Musk, the founder of the company, um, basically said it on Twitter.
Intense effort underway at Tesla to develop a practical autopilot system for Model S
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 18, 2013
Engineers interested in working on autonomous driving, pls email email@example.com. Team will report directly to me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 18, 2013
But that's not all! In an interview with the Financial Times (locked behind a paywall, argh, what's up with journalists demanding payment for their work), Musk said that the company is working on a "90 percent" autonomous vehicle within three years, and a fully autonomous version after that.
Tesla is a curious and sometimes difficult company; they've had trouble with reviewers (as in, Musk accused an NYT reviewer of fudging numbers in his negative review) as well as various production delays. Elon Musk has had enormous success with his other companies, namely PayPal (which has a near-monopoly on online banking and payment) and SpaceX (the most successful private American space agency in history), but Musk reserves his public bluster mostly for Tesla, even individually responding to negative reviews of Tesla's cars.
Musk is passionate and prone to overblown statements, but he's had enormous successes in industries that shouldn't have allowed a startup to come in and dominate. Banking and spaceflight are two of the toughest areas to change; it often takes top-down initiatives from the President to have significant impact on either. The automotive industry, though, has had major shakeups in the past decade or so, with the introduction and success of the hybrid car, the battle for increased gas mileage, and now the beginning stages of the electric car revolution. Musk clearly thinks Tesla is already on track to be a major part of the latter update, so why not keep looking forward? And what else could be next but automation?
Dear car companies
I paid for the car. I want to drive it myself and not have some crappy computer do it for me. Computers suck at doing things with as many variables as driving.
Also its just one more step towards humans be fat lazy blobs while machines do everything. So kindly stop with this self driving car nonsense.
You must not commute very far. In California, the traffic is brutal. What causes most of it? Someone hitting the breaks, and causing a chain reaction that causes log jams. You know why they are called log jams? Because the way to get them out is to move the first log, then the second, and so on. If commuter cars were autonomous, there would be no more issue with caterpillar type movements on roads. All cars could start at exactly the same time.
I'm all for driving for enjoyment. But if you've ever had a multi-hour commute, you appreciate the value that self-driving cars will carry.
Drive your car on the weekends. Let it drive you the rest of the time.
I do get your sentiment about being fat and lazy. On the other hand, it's much safer when people want to text and drive. Or do other work and drive.
Dear Blarg King,
Computers seem to have no problems flying, and as is evident by the common cause of accidents, people seem to suck at driving.
As a side benefit of reduced traffic, reduced oil (insert term here for dependence, burning, ghg, whatever). Cars that don't start and stop as much use less fuel. No matter the fuel source of the vehicles, they will perform MUCH better.
Heck, even when there are car accidents, the vehicles will merge with plenty of room to spare, and again, no traffic jams.
I can't wait for the day.
Now that I think of it, you mentioned that you want to drive. Well, I know first hand that the person actually driving gets shafted when driving through beautiful areas. For example, the Pacific Coast Highway is stunning, but you better always keep one eye on the road, as the zigs and zags are vicious. With autonomous vehicles, you get to enjoy the ride!
Don`t worry tesla sells less cars the even the tinniest car companies in the world. There is a lot of hype involved. And these partial self driving systems already exist on luxury models from Mercedes, Volkswagen, Audi and BMW. They can even stay between the lanes with your hands off. But it will take a long time to bring down costs and make it fully autonomous. There are just too many variables and liability concerns. Plus it`s just a gimmick. Because cars get you to your destination wether in autopilot or regular driving mode. Eventually everything will be autonomous and we don't even have to work or get out of bed anymore.
Umm... This title is link-bait and I expect better from PopSci.
The autonomous car has already been "cracked." What's more is it has already been demonstrated numerous times to a wide audience. There are autonomous cars on the road currently driving around. Surely there are improvements to be made on existing technologies, and Tesla may develop such a system with desirable features, but "the" company to "crack" this problem? Gest not.
Telsa (and Elon Musk) are starting to reek of the same uninhibited promotion that excited journalists give Apple products -- effectively blurring the line between a desirable product and the first of its kind.
Tesla is late to the autonomous vehicle party. They may do it well, but for this feature they can NEVER be first.
I won't buy it. Or if its the only option then I'll rip out its stupid computer brain and put in manual controls.
Where you see traffic accidents I just see population control.
Dear car companies please don't let Blarg_King drive. His erratic behavior, need to sleep, ability to be blinded by common sunlight, susceptibility to sneeze and occasional race to a pitstop are endangering us all. He also has substandard reaction time during emergencies such as blowouts and is often unable to detect black ice or properly calculate tire friction on wet concrete. A critical bug was discovered in his pedestrian detection and collision avoidance subroutine. When a female pedestrian having more than 70% of her dermis exposed is detected nearly all of his available processing resources are redirected to monitoring this pedestrian. The bug was found to be triggered by an ancillary set or organs but Blarg_King refuses to apply the system update required to fix the critical bug.
If I can trust the validity of a recent article I read, the current stumbling block to self driving cars is the cost of LIDAR scanners. Has SpaceX made their own LIDAR scanners for the Dragon?
@david_forbus no, and the lidar used on dragon kinda sucks. Stereo vision or poly view has 3d rendering has made great strides lately. The kinect is pretty cool too but I think it projects infra red and I don't know how well that works in daylight and I know it has problems when you have too many kinetics in the same area.
It would be fun to work on that!
I had Gran Turismo skills on my resume before. Maybe I should put that back on and send my resume to them.
I've watched discovery/history channel shows about it and have heard mention that if every car on the road was automated think of how quickly traffic flow would be improved. You could be seeing speed limit signs at least interstate increase by 50 mph + or more because cars would be able to sync with each other yadda yadda. traffic lights may not even be necessary cept i guess for wandering pedestrians. Cars would pass intersections going 60 mph literally inches away from hitting each other if the automated systems were refined to that level. I look at this technology and think man it would be great on long road trips where no one has to do crap cept sit on their ass fat American style and play video games all the way to their destination.
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SpacEx has a failure rate close to 50%. Would you be willing to be a passenger in a self-driving Tesla car that had a 50% chance of crashing?
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