Autonomous vehicle technology isn't going anywhere. In fact, more and more companies are researching and testing self-driving technology. Back in May of 2015, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog introduced its readers to the Google Self-Driving Cars, which were a platoon of self-driving cars being tested on public roads in Mountain View, California. And just two weeks ago, we informed readers about sighting of GM's autonomous Chevy Bolt around San Francisco. High end sports cars, to affordable American car companies, to the company responsible for the world's most used search engine, everyone is getting into the autonomous car game. Last month, Elon Musk, the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), gave a TED Talk in which he discussed Tesla's goal for implementing self-driving technology.
In an exchange between Musk and TED owner Chris Anderson, Musk says, "I think we're still on track for being able to go cross-country from LA to New York by the end of the year, fully autonomous." Anderson seeks clarification by asking, "OK, so by the end of the year, you're saying, someone's going to sit in a Tesla without touching the steering wheel, tap in "New York," off it goes...Won't ever have to touch the wheel — by the end of 2017." Musk confidently tells Anderson, "Yeah. Essentially, November or December of this year, we should be able to go all the way from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York, no controls touched at any point during the entire journey."
According to BGR, what makes Musk's statement so impressive is that the driver-less cross-country journey he thinks the Tesla vehicles will be capable of are not set to "a static route, which is to say that the Tesla vehicle will be able to adjust its route in real-time based on traffic patterns. What's more, Mush said that the vehicle would even be able to handle a change in destination on the fly." Musk says, "...certainly once you enter a highway, to go anywhere on the highway system in a given country. So it's not sort of limited to LA to New York. We could change it and make it Seattle-Florida, that day, in real time. So you were going from LA to New York. Now go from LA to Toronto."
While Tesla's goal to "not have the driver touch the wheel by the end of 2017," is impressive, even more astonishing is Musk's ambition to allow drivers to "be able to buy one of your cars and literally just take the hands off the wheel and go to sleep and wake up and find that they've arrived," in two years time.
Musk made a counterpoint to his own idea by saying, "So the real trick of it is not how do you make it work say 99.9 percent of the time, because, like, if a car crashes one in a thousand times, then you're probably still not going to be comfortable falling asleep...but if you say it's perhaps — the car is unlikely to crash in a hundred lifetimes, or a thousand lifetimes, then people are like, OK, wow, if I were to live a thousand lives, I would still most likely never experience a crash, then that's probably OK."
As if fully autonomous cars that drivers can sleep in weren't a tall enough order, Musk also plans to announce an electric Tesla Semi-truck in September, which he claims, "actually can out-torque any diesel semi." And if Tesla's autonomous technology is a success in their cars, perhaps like Otto, Musk will start testing autonomous semis as well, (if he hasn't already)!
While we soon may be able to fall asleep behind the wheel of a Tesla, falling asleep while operating a vehicle will likely result in a motor vehicle accident today. Though fully self-driving cars are in the near future, the world is currently still dependent on ordinary human controlled vehicles. As such, human error is still a cause for concern on roadways, as car accidents are possible. If you or someone you know has been involved in a collision, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.