Tech guru Elon Musk, one of the most talked about CEOs in the world, the man behind companies like SpaceX and Tesla, made an amazing announcement last month that took the tech world by surprise. Tesla plans to equip all their future cars with the hardware and software needed for total autonomous control – no human intervention whatsoever.
Although, the concept and technology of self-driving electric cars is nothing new, and there are quite a few competitors out there, names like Google, Uber, GM, working on the same lines, the seemingly unlikely deadline he gave was the surprise factor.
In the self-driving-electric-car competition, Ford is aiming to launch in 2021, China’s Baidu is expected in 2019; Google is yet to make an announcement on a date and likewise for GM.
Tesla envisions a time in the very near future when there would be laws against human-driven cars. If he were to be believed, looking ahead, thousands of lives can be saved by putting more faith in technology and the onboard computer rather than on humans.
His claims seem to be based on the fact that most deaths happen as result of human error rather than mechanical failure, and the stats back that humans are susceptible to falling asleep, to smartphone distractions, to bad decisions to excessive alcohol consumption, and to so many other factors that cause such mishaps in the thousands, every year.
Some economists feel that the car would be somewhat expensive with the kind of investment and resources involved. However, with the amount of advance orders already secured by Tesla, the question that is being asked now is whether they would be able to deliver as promised.
Tesla’s video shows an autonomous, self-driving and self-parking car, with The Benny Hill Show theme song playing in the background. It takes the viewer on a drive, apparently, through real-world roads and situations. A rear camera shows a man sitting with his feet not touching the accelerator or the brake pedals, his hands on his lap, not touching the steering wheel.
The speeded up video goes on to show the car stopping, the man leaving the car and the car parking itself in a vacant spot. Tesla had to put a man in the car because of legal issues.
The video is designed to display the capability of the car to handle real-world road situations including sudden vehicular movements, stop signs, pedestrians, sharp bends, sudden braking and more.
The car is projected to have 8 cameras providing a 360-degree view, with a supercomputer onboard, capable of making an estimated 40 trillion decisions per second or more.
Prof. Raghunathan “Raj” Rajkumar who heads the Autonomous Driving collaborative research Lab. at Carnegie Mellon University said, “An unedited sequence of the vehicle driving itself in downtown San Francisco would be more meaningful to see what the vehicle is capable of doing,”
Despite the distracters and the naysayers, the idea of self-driving cars, promising safer roads and far lesser driving related deaths, makes one look forward to the automobile revolution that seems more and more imminent now.
Also, constructive and valuable Insight into Tesla’s present and future;