Tesla and Self-Driving Cars, What the Future May Look Like
A few weeks ago, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was discussing self-driving cars at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference. He explained that soon you'll be able to "summon" your Model S to your location on private property, "It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you're at ... the car is going to be just like that."
Images: courtesy of Rinspeed (Geneva Auto Show)
This all begs the question: how will Tesla (and other automakers) get to a future, someday, where autonomous vehicles will be the norm? Remarkably, it could start this summer with an upcoming Model S software update, version 7.0. Musk mentioned that the update will also include "auto steering" so that the Model S "can basically go between San Francisco and Seattle without the driver doing anything."
In trying to envision how this might work, it might be helpful to watch a video released last week from Bosch Mobility Solutions demonstrating their vision for how this could operate. As we might expect, the demo is filmed in a (non-branded) Tesla Model S.
Bosch showcases the ability to balance between manual and automated routes, holding the steering wheel for three seconds with both hands to clearly activate/deactivate the autonomous mode. And, they’ve given consideration to some of the thorny liability issues as well. The car safely pulls over to the shoulder of the road in emergency cases.
But, just for fun, let's be a bit more bold in our future outlook. What will self-driving look like further out into the future? For that, we can check out a concept car promoted last year by Rinspeed, a Swiss "creativity think tank and mobility lab" for the auto industry. Rinspeed are considered futurists in the automotive world and, not surprisingly, they also chose a (non-branded) Tesla Model S to show off their advanced, future-forward vision for autonomous driving.
But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it's important to remember that Elon Musk noted (on a recent media call): "There's an expectation that a pilot is paying attention on an airplane... [it's the] same for Model S, you're still expected to pay attention, but [Model S] should take care of you if you have moments of distraction."
In any event, as we project out 5, 10, or 20 years, it’s worth listening to industry experts weigh in on autonomous vehicles (AVs). Many definitely see Tesla Motors playing a leading role in this intriguing future. Case in point -- glance at this "Future of Self-Driving Cars" infographic below that predicts "Tesla will be first [as they] they have the brains and the...” (hmmm, you just gotta read it)...
Full Q&A: The Future of Self-Driving Cars via PartCatalog