Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated that next year’s cars from the automaker will be able to drive themselves 90 percent of the time.
Of course, we’ve all been hearing murmurings for some time regarding self-driving autos, but every indication suggested that the technology was at least several years out. General Motors has suggested that some 2017 models will be available with a hands-free mode, but Musk aims to beat GM to the punch with an autonomous Tesla car by the end of 2015.
In an interview with CNNMoney, Tesla stated: “A Tesla car next year will probably be 90 percent capable of autopilot… With a combination of various sensors. You combine cameras with image recognition with radar and long-range ultrasonics, that’ll do it.”
The CEO also said that being a company with its origins in Silicon Valley, it’s only appropriate that Tesla should lead the charge in the industry. No pun intended.
It’s important to note that Tesla is not claiming to make ready a truly driverless car for next year. Previously, Nissan, General Motors, and other major automakers had projected 2020 as the soonest that such a car would be made available for sale. Google has been leading on that front with their Google Chauffeur software, and while Tesla plans on incorporating many of the same sensors and protocols in their own car, there will still exist a functional gap between this autonomous Tesla car, and a truly driverless vehicle.
Conventional wisdom dictates that it’s the lack of legal precedent, as much as it is technological barriers, that put the driverless car several years out still. Chances are strong that at least some of that legal precedent will be set by these new autonomous Tesla cars.