Tesla Moves Toward Self-Driving Cars
Speculation is growing that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is adding technologies to the company’s Model S luxury sedan to help drive the car and increase safety on the road, according to various news reports. On October 1, Musk tweeted that he would be making a special announcement on October 9, as Ian King and Keith Naughton write for Bloomberg in an article appearing on Auto News. Musk’s tweet said, “About time to unveil the D and something else” and featured a photo of a garage door bearing the letter “D” and raised just enough to reveal the back of a Tesla Model S.
The Bloomberg article says Tesla Motors Inc. will be offering high-tech features that other luxury car makers already offer, such as keeping the car in its lane, according to an unnamed source familiar with Tesla’s plans. There had been rumors that Musk’s announcement would be that it’s moving closer to self-driving cars or that it’s launching an all-wheel-drive model, or both, writes Chris Woodyard for USA Today.
Simon Sproule, a Tesla spokesman, said in an interview that last month Tesla Motors started installing cameras in the Model S, Auto News writes. The cameras include “a forward-facing one behind the windshield that will enable safety technology required by European regulators,” Auto News writes, going on to quote Sproule as saying, “More news to come.”
As Auto News writes, more cars from more automakers are adding automated driver-assist features such as self-parking, lane-departure warning systems, blind-spot warnings, and technology that automatically keeps a car a safe distance behind in stop-and-go traffic. These features are seen as a “stepping stone” to self-driving vehicles, Auto News writes, noting that back in June, Musk said Tesla Motors was moving forward with plans to add self-driving features to its electric cars. AutoNews quotes Musk as saying that by next year “you’ll be able to go from highway to on-ramp to highway exit without touching any controls.”
In a comment to the USA Today article, Richard Alexander of the University of Texas at Dallas writes:
Autonomous (‘self-driving’) vehicles are a critical component for improving our national transportation needs. We could greatly decrease transportation deaths from the tens of thousands to a small fraction of that by using autonomous technology. Additionally, we could reduce gridlock and improve fuel economy, while saving tax-payer money. I highly recommend that all automakers and transportation agencies invest heavily in making autonomous vehicles a reality in the near future.