Looks like Tesla might be hiding more in its software than blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control. According to Bloomberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is "discussing" autonomous cars with Google, specifically the Lidar laser tracking system. Oh, and if you're going to have a self-driving future Tesla vehicle, then you shouldn't call it autonomous. Instead, Musk prefers the term autopilot. As he told Bloomberg, "Self-driving sounds like it's going to do something you don't want it to do. Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars."

Any Tesla robot chauffeur is a ways away – Musk Tweeted it is "still a few years from production," but Google has been working hard on driverless cars (with green cred, too, since the test mules are mostly Toyota Prius hybrids). In fact, the search company says the technology could be ready for prime time in as little as three to five years – though safety regulations and other logistical questions will likely push that back, perhaps a decade. The government's work on self-driving vehicles is mostly the purview of DARPA and its Urban Challenge and Grand Challenge test courses.

Musk says – surprise – that Tesla's system is better than what's come before, telling Bloomberg, "The problem with Google's current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive. Its better to have an optical system, basically cameras with software that is able to figure out what's going on just by looking at things." He did try to quell excitement about the idea of a driverless Telsa by Tweeting, "Am a fan of Larry, Sergey & Google in general, but self-driving cars comments to Bloomberg were just off-the-cuff. No big announcement here."


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  • 47 Comments
      purrpullberra
      • 1 Day Ago
      This is a technology that I want a lot of other drivers to take advantage of but I LOVE driving!!! The idiots that could care less about driving need this. The bozo's who want to eat while driving need this. The workers who need to get something done on the way to work need this. Every woman in the world... just kidding. ;-) But anyone driving kids needs this. I don't want it at all.
      Kuro Houou
      • 1 Day Ago
      Mmm that car in the picture just looks so good!! I wish the interior was done better, but the exterior is gorgeous.
      archos
      • 1 Day Ago
      This will happen for the simple reason the government wants to know everything about you. What better way to keep the sheeple in the flock than to be the shepard? When they start detaining dissidents and activists they only need to wait till they get in a car and *click* goes the automatic locks as they veer off the edge of the cli.......
        oRenj9
        • 1 Day Ago
        @archos
        If the government wanted to kill you, they wouldn't go through these convoluted schemes in order to hide it. They would just have the SWAT team go to your house, bust open the door and shoot you. Nobody would really care, as they would just think that you are a terrorist. If you're white, it probably wouldn't even make local news headlines. Even if your family managed to sue the PD over it, the worst that would happen is a few officers go on paid vacation until things cool off.
      oRenj9
      • 1 Day Ago
      I'm curious why they feel that optical sensors are superior to laser/radar ones. I do some work with AI/machine learning and have always found that involving computer vision in a project adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to the system and makes it less accurate. When possible, I always prefer to work with specialized sensors that provide the exact information I need rather than trying to extract that information from image data. My thinking is that Tesla's system isn't going to be fully autonomous like Google's is - hence their insistance on the term "autopilot." I suspect their system will be limited in its use, i.e., will only work on the highway. But they are so far behind Google that the only way they can get a working product out-the-door before Google is to design a system around off-the-shelf CCDs and deal with the limitations. Personally, I think cameras are a bad idea for this use. A semi kicking up mud could obscure one or all of the cameras and effectively "blinding" they system; knocking it out and requiring immediate user intervention. While a radar based system would be incredibly resilient against such environmental hazards.
      username
      • 1 Day Ago
      *Elon Musk
      miles
      • 1 Day Ago
      If you must outsource your headline writing tasks, please make sure they speak English verry goodly.
      otiswild
      • 1 Day Ago
      Agree, I doubt there'll be significant progress in production until machine vision (using cameras like the Kinect or Subaru's system for tailgatedar and lane departure sensing) improves to the point where autopilot can be done using compact cameras and onboard computing power.
      GasMan
      • 1 Day Ago
      That would be perfect. The car can stop and spend 1/2 hour recharging whenever it detects you sleeping.
      archos
      • 1 Day Ago
      Not so easy. Swat teams? Local precinct? Who gave the order? Terrorist? What evidence? Ever heard of Freedom of Information Act? Family members could sue for evidence. However, the scenerio I laid out there would be none of that. Just a roadside accident.
      Electron
      • 1 Day Ago
      Autopilot is a great idea; in case of an accident it's immediately clear who to blame: the carmaker. Maybe Musk should give this sort of concepts a wide berth. It really sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
        John Hansen
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Electron
        Everyone needs to stop mentioning the possibility of lawsuits. I hear it all the time at work as the reason given not to do cool things. We're all wrapped up in lawsuit paralysis and it feeds the scum lawyers' egos, encouraging the behavior.
          oRenj9
          • 1 Day Ago
          @John Hansen
          Sadly, you're spot-on; this has been my experience as well.
        matt.iiiiiiii
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Electron
        Google's driverless cars have collectively driven over 300,000 miles with no accidents. This is something few human drivers can manage, and going forward, automobile autopilot software will only continue to improve.
        archos
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Electron
        Actually the CAMERAS would make clear who's responsible. Insurance companies would L-0-0-0-V-E this compared to the obnoxious slops who try to steer the wheel with their beer belly while they text about the bowel movement they made after brunch.
      chrismcfreely
      • 1 Day Ago
      Muck Mork like go ...yaaaaaaaaay... derp/
      Cruising
      • 1 Day Ago
      Tesla Model S potentially powered by Google autonomous driving technology. Hey Apple you awake, your plans for shoving iOS interfaces in cars sounds dated and stale, this is the future.
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