Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • tesla model s
  • tesla model s

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
While Nissan and General Motors have sworn they will bring self-driving cars to market by 2020, Tesla Motors says it can happen much faster. We shouldn't be surprised, says Tesla Motor's Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel, since all of the technology that's needed, the sensors and processors, are already here.

Straubel spoke at Stanford University's Global Climate and Energy Project Symposium in early October and said he thinks autonomous vehicle technology, which the company prefers to call "autopilot," is inevitable and "transformational." It's going to "happen sooner than people think," he said during an onstage interview with Tesla investor Ira Ehrenpreis.

While self-driving cars may seem futuristic to some people, Straubel pointed out that similar systems - mostly auto pilot as a safety feature - are widely used in other transportation vehicles, including planes, ships and space ships. The auto industry has been slow to adopt the technology, but it is the safety angle that will be a key reason autopilot gets adopted, Straubel said.

Tesla has been taking the venture very seriously and has been hiring "a large team" that is integrating second-gen features into the Model S like voice recognition and remote software updates, Straubel said. CEO Elon Musk has been talking about assembling the right engineering team for developing an autopilot and Tesla is hiring. He thinks it can happen much faster than Nissan and GM do – three years from now, he expects some autopilot technology to be available inside Tesla's cars.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Probably due to low average annual miles. I was just illustrating how in the long run market forces could make this technology a standard feature if it is found to be safer. There will always be some classic car drivers that wish to take their lives into their own hands.
      Drizzy
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Autonomous vehicle in 3 years" ... $30k Tesla in 2017 ... Coincidence ... I think not.
      Grendal
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah! We can finally get on with doing more important things like texting, talking on cell phones, having a meal, and personal grooming.
      danfred311
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not sure it has to do with safety but that's certainly a bonus too. The main advantage is that you can drive drunk or sleep while driving. Children and old people can drive. And women :) I kid the lovely ladies :)
      Bernard
      • 1 Year Ago
      I prefer this autopilot mindset to the full autonomous car idea. With autopilot the driver/pilot is still at the wheel and can take over when necessary. With a full autonomous car I expect the controls to be completely removed. I was expecting that this tech wouldn't happen until all cars had it and were networked, but it looks like we are figuring out how to do this without the network. Of course, fully autonomous networked cars would be able to realize efficiencies that standalone systems could never match. They would be able to optimize traffic flows in real time to reduce the energy use of the entire system while decreasing travel times for all. That part is a long way away though.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I still enjoy driving and would like to continue. Most people, however don't enjoy it, and aren't particularly good at it.
      Dave D
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bad analogy. This is more like we're both riding horses but you have someone leading yours while you sit back there with both hands on the pommel like a scared, 12 year old little girl while I'm racing mine. Does your husband let you drive? LMAO!!!
      Dave D
      • 1 Year Ago
      You can have my steering wheel when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. Same goes for my manual transmission. Now piss off.
        TurboFroggy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave D
        You can have my reins and whip when you pry them from my cold dead hands! Same goes for my favorite saddle, now yaw!
      Koenigsegg
      • 1 Year Ago
      unfortunately i hope the cars fail and get into accidents because this is plain stupid, now humans wont have to physically do anything anymore why on earth would you buy a 100k car that you would never drive why would you not want to drive driving is one of the most funnest things in the world shame and i dont drink alcohol so im never drunk
      thecommentator2013
      • 1 Year Ago
      "managed thinking" is inevitable due to people's behaviour, anyway.
      The Mercers
      • 1 Year Ago
      Okay, first I will do the CYA thing: I think autonomous vehicles are inevitable, and will do wonders for us. Imagine house-bound elderly parents who can no longer qualify for a driver's license, being able to tell the Camry to take them down to the Walgreen's, at 25 mph? Imagine a mildly-autistic person being able to get to a workplace on his or her own? Imagine platooned Class 8 trucks crossing North Dakota at high speed and low drag (therefore better mpg)? Imagine the local AutoZone sending a van-load of parts off to the local garage autonomously? Okay, all good stuff. BUT I do NOT get the safety argument! Last year we drove 3 trillion miles in the USA, and 35,000 people were killed in/by cars running up this total. That is one fatality for roughly each 85,000,000 miles. Do the Silicon Valley people really think that software will do better? Is removing the human element always better? Imagine you are stopped at a red light. You see a car barreling toward you in your rear-view mirror. It will strike you. You, as a human, can look both ways and then break the law by running the red light and getting out of the way. Do we think we want to program cars to decide when to break the law? Why don't we emphasize that we can get to 95% of the safety benefits that are out there, without going to full autonomy? Automatic braking, lane departure control, smart cruise control, back-up warnings, on and one, all can be done without taking the final step of "full autonomous." It seems like aiming for the final 5% is running the risk of a Hindenburg moment that could destroy this technology before it really gets off the ground. Think of the legalities. Virtually every autonomous vehicle proponent says "In the event of an impending emergency, the car can alert the driver to regain control." Sounds good. Now, how much advance notice must the car give? Two seconds? Five? Won't my elderly mother need 10 seconds to re-orient herself, but the teenager only three? Who decides? In sum, I think autonomous vehicles have MANY advantages and SHOULD be put on the roads ASAP. But I do NOT see how leading with the safety argument is the best way to do this. I can see the headlines now: "Frankencar Kills Family of Four!" Wouldn't pitching the efficiency, liberating, and convenience aspects of these cars make more sense than saying "We can do better than 1 in 85,000,000!" Does anyone know of a complex hardware and software system that delivers that kind of reliability? And by the way... we've already seen that a Tesla S, which is far from autonomous, can be remotely hacked into.... End of rant!
        Actionable Mango
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Mercers
        IIHS says autonomous cars are safer. Heck, simply adding autonomous-like features in existing cars is also significantly safer (features like automatically applying brakes when the forward collision detection triggers). 35,000 people dying annually is the important number. Multiplying it by the number of miles is irrelevant. Also, not everyone is killed. For each person killed, many more are just maimed, paralyzed, put into a coma, burned all over, or brain-damaged.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Mercers
        --"Last year we drove 3 trillion miles in the USA, and 35,000 people were killed in/by cars running up this total. That is one fatality for roughly each 85,000,000 miles" Um... so you're only counting Deaths?? What about property damage, injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering? How much money do tax payers and citizens pay to keep Emergency Rooms operating and Ambulances and Fire trucks responding to the injuried motorists?? How much does that drive up taxes and insurance premiums for everybody? And the traffic problems it creates, and the lost productivity from late employees? The true costs are incalculable.
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Mercers
        Semi-autonomus vehicles worry. I think it should be all autonomous or nothing. The more semi-autonomous a vehicle is, the more a driver can allow himself to be distracted. He can be more drowsy, less attentive, multi-task more. He can just rely on the car, until the car misses something. It would be very similar to how the Air France crew was too dependent on the autonomy of the new, highly advanced Airbus 330: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18720915
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Mercers
        1. Why is that car barreling towards you when you are stopped at a red light? Idiot human driver? 2. Do you spend all of your time obsessing about vehicles approaching you from behind? What are the changes that you would not see such a vehicle approaching? What are the chances that a vehicle's radar/camera/laser system would not see a vehicle approaching from the rear?
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Mercers
        We already have semi-autonomous hypermiling long distance freight transport vehicles. They are called trains.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Mercers
        The developers of autonomous cars are well aware that nothing remotely like the death toll from present cars will be acceptable. The vast majority of accidents are due to driver error. I would expect more like 300 deaths a year, and would be astonished if the death toll were as high as 3,000 a year, or a tenth of the present rate. Cars killed more Americans in the 20th century than all her wars.
      archos
      • 1 Year Ago
      There was a movie about a world with self driving cars. A comet flew over the earth and the next day they could all drive themselves. They ran over everybody they could find.
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