Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is seriously investigating technology that could lead to driverless cars and he’s in talks with Google to make it a reality. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think, given the technology in cars on the road right now that monitors what’s happening and can actually stop the car to prevent an accident.
Musk said that the technology they’re looking at isn’t something that’s going to let the driver slide over to the passenger side and eat breakfast while the car drives to work. Instead, it’ll be more like the autopilot on a plane with the driver staying put and keeping watch over their vehicle.
This is a bit different than what Google has been working on as a part of their driverless-car efforts. The Light Detection and and Ranging (Lidar) system would do more than act as an autopilot, but it’s still trying to overcome technical obstacles and is extremely expensive.
A camera-based system which would be much less expensive and easier to integrate into vehicles has more possibility in Musk’s eyes. It’s the kind of thing that’s already in some cars to a lesser degree with rear and front cameras that detect the distance between a vehicle and other objects and warn the driver of potential problems.
Google also sees the driverless option happening a lot early than most auto manufacturers. They expect it to be market ready within a short five years where companies like Tesla and Nissan don’t expect to see autonomous cars in showrooms for at least a decade. To Google’s credit, they have showed off an autonomous Toyota Prius fleet with roof mounted laser-radar devices.
Despite the conflicting estimates about a ready date, the combination of interest from auto manufacturers along with the technological development happening at companies like Google all but assure an autonomous option in the near future.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.