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It may be deployed in future Tesla vehicles

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is interested in self-driving technology for his future fleets -- and he's going to Google for advice.

Musk has been talking to Google about its work with self-driving cars and how to implement such a system for future Tesla vehicles. However, Musk doesn't want to call it "self-driving," but rather "autopilot" technology. 

“I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self- driving,” Musk said. “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.”

The idea behind such technology is to not only make driving more convenient, but also safer. Cars equipped with self-driving systems can react to certain situations and prevent a crash, for example. 

Google is the place to go for insight on the new technology, considering Google has launched self-driving projects over the last couple of years. Its test fleet consists of Toyota Prius', Audi TTs and Lexus RX450hs equipped with the self-driving technology.

Google's self-driving cars use LIDAR, which is a rotating sensor on the roof that scans more than 200 feet in all directions for a map of the car's surroundings; a position estimator sensor that helps locate its location on a map; four radar sensors to identify the position of distant objects, and a video camera to detect traffic lights as well as moving objects like pedestrians.

“The problem with Google’s current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive,” Musk said. “It’s 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.” 

As of right now, Google's self-driving cars are allowed to drive on Nevada, California and Florida roads for testing. Last month, it was reported that Michigan may approve autonomous vehicle licensing soon. 

Musk sees autonomous driving -- or autopilot -- as the next step in the evolution of vehicles, but isn't working on development quite yet. 

“We’re not focused on autopilot right now; we will be in the future,” Musk said. “Autopilot is not as important as accelerating the transition to electric cars, or to sustainable transport.”

Source: Bloomberg

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By SublimeSimplicity on 5/8/2013 9:05:47 AM , Rating: 3
If I owned a self driving car, it could drop me off at work and return home to my wife/kids to run errands. I would only need one car with little inconvenience. If you extrapolate that further and consider that with no drivers, taxis would become very cheap... especially an EV taxi. Why would you own your own car, if you could guarantee a taxi could be at your door 10 minutes after requesting it via your smartphone?

When you consider the logistics that would take to orchestrate... who comes to mind? Google. They understand, given this tech, they could own commuter transportation.

This is all probably 20 years out, but exciting nonetheless.

RE: Self driving cars are a huge economic impact
By lelias2k on 5/8/2013 9:43:33 AM , Rating: 2
It is definitely the future. What we have to see is the 1% will allow this to happen soon enough, as I believe the technology will be available sooner than we think. This is a change in paradigm, and implies that huge corporations today might not need to exist or at least be smaller.

I read somewhere that every year we have technology advances that eliminate tens of thousands of jobs. We are too slow to keep up with it. I wonder how we would adapt to such "driverless" reality.

By Souka on 5/8/2013 3:27:00 PM , Rating: 2
sounds great until some nut job... or a "terrorist-cell" decides to put a bomb or a contagen into these shared vehicles....


By nafhan on 5/8/2013 10:13:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yes. Other interesting side effects:
-Killing the liability side of the insurance industry.
-Vacations would be more awesome (Go to sleep, wake up in Florida. Put the kids in a separate car, etc.).
-VERY efficient traffic flow - allowing increased throughput on existing roads.
-Relaxed safety standards (once human drivers are off the roads).
-Front seats that face the other passengers.

So, much cool stuff.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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