TESLA cars could be free to operate completely autonomously as soon as this year – and certainly by “next year at the latest”.
That’s the bold claim from car chief Elon Musk, who reckons his driverless motors will be even better than you on the road.
Musk has been talking up the prospect of fully self-driving Tesla cars for years.
In 2015, he event predicted that fully autonomous cars would be ready within two years, and said it was a “much easier problem than people think it is”.
That timeline was missed, but Musk now believes he’s nearly ready to put driverless Tesla vehicles on the road.
“To me right now, this seems ‘game, set and match’,” Musk bragged in an interview with MIT researcher Lex Fridman – as spotted by Ars Technica.
“I could be wrong, but it appears to be the case that Tesla is vastly ahead of everyone,” Musk added, in a jab to rivals.
Tesla cars already have some autonomous features – and can navigate motorways largely autonomously.
But a fully driverless car could operate on any road in any condition, and perform any manoeuvre to boot – without human input.
Now Musk boasts that Tesla drivers will only need to keep their hands on the wheel “for at least six months or something like that”.
“Maybe even toward the end of this year, I’d be shocked if it’s not next year at the latest,” Musk added.
And the billionaire Tesla chief even boasted that his self-driving technology is so good that “having a human intervene will decrease safety”.
Not everyone is convinced by Tesla’s claims, however.
To date, there have been three reported deaths in Tesla vehicles while automated driving systems were engaged.
Two of these were in the USA and one was in China.
Another fatality was recorded in a refitted self-driving Volvo operated by Uber in Arizona last year.
Although many suspect driverless cars will inevitably be safer than human-operated vehicles, there are still concerns.
Speaking to CNN, Dean Pomerleau, of Carnegie Mellon University, warned about Tesla’s claims.
“Claiming its vehicles will soon be ‘feature complete’ for full self-driving is one more step in the unconscionable practices that Tesla is already engaged in with Autopilot,” he said.
He accused Tesla of “overselling its capabilities and reliability when marketing its vehicles, and then blaming the driver for not reading the manual and paying constant attention when the technology inevitably fails”.
What is a driverless car? Levels of autonomy revealed
Car-tech firm SAE explains the different levels of self-driving car tech…
- Level 0 (No Automation) – The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems
- Level 1 (Driver Assistance) – The driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of either steering or acceleration/deceleration using the information about the driving environment, and with the expectation that the human driver perform all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task
- Level 2 (Partial Automation) – The driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment, and with the expectation that the human driver perform all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task
- Level 3 (Conditional Automation) – The driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene
- Level 4 (High Automation) – The driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene
- Level 5 (Full Automation) – The full-time performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver
The Sun recently revealed how police could one day “hijack” your car, slow it down and even take it off the road.
The system would work by using road-side systems that track and control connected cars of the future.
And using smartphone sensors, it would potentially be possible to track your vehicle – and what you’re doing inside it – even if you don’t have a driverless car.
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Driverless cars are being retrained to be more like humans after becoming ‘overly cautious’.
Apple and Volkswagen teamed up last year to create self-driving vans that can shuttle staff around Apple’s Californian offices.
Toyota has unveiled a self-driving ‘minibus’ for the Moon that could carry astronauts thousands of miles across the lunar surface.
Are you worried about the prospect of driverless cars on the road? Let us know in the comments!
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