Elon Musk, the man known as the mastermind behind the largest innovations in transportation and the real-life Tony Stark, has taken another stride with Tesla Motors. The electric car manufacturer is moving to release a 90% automated vehicle within the next three years.
This news comes on the heels of Mercedes-Benz’s introduction of their self-driving S-Class at the Frankfurt Auto Show Sept. 11. The car was able to successfully navigate its own way through 60 miles of German roads, though Mercedes-Benz acknowledges that the technology won’t likely be available to consumers until 2020.
2020 is also the target date for countless other manufacturers, such as Volvo and Continental, with the goal of creating a fully automated drive system. Nissan released a statement in August announcing their plans to meet the 2020 release date.
Notoriously, Google has been working toward developing automated drive systems for a few years with no luck in acquiring a partnership with a manufacturer. Many believed Tesla would be first to pair with the internet mogul’s research and development. However, Musk believes that full automation is not the answer to stepping forward with this technology, and says all development will occur internally.
“My opinion is it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous cars,” Musk told Financial Times reporters in a Sept. 17 article. “It’s incredibly hard to get that last few per cent.”
The proposed technology would allow drivers to turn on a type of “autopilot” for the vehicle, which would put the computing systems within the car in control. This would put more control in the hands of the driver than a fully automated car would, which could help with assuaging fears from consumers.
“My opinion is it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous cars.It’s incredibly hard to get that last few per cent.” – Elon Musk
While the technology to fully automate a car has yet to be perfected, there are already massive obstacles standing in the way of implementing this technology, especially if Tesla plans to release it to consumers by 2016. Nevada and California traffic laws allow for self-driving cars to travel along roads, but national and international legislation, as well as insurance regulations, will take time to catch up.
Andy Palmer, Executive Vice-President of Nissan, described these challenges to the Financial Times Aug. 27. “The unknown is the regulatory framework. And that is going to change country by country. It is going to be easier to deploy in some countries than others. That’s the intangible.”
Exactly where the development of this technology goes is still a question, as is who will be the first to make it available to consumers. But, with Tesla already blowing minds around the country with their undeniable success, they’re proving they’ve got the gold to back up their currency.
Will they succeed? Or will another manufacturer beat them to the punch? We’ll simply have to wait, and see.