May 7, 2013
Forget Google Glass! Search Engine Discusses Driverless Cars With Tesla
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Elon Musk, the billionaire behind Tesla Motors and space exploration company SpaceX, has told Bloomberg that his car company is considering adding a driverless model to their lineup and has been discussing such possibilities with Google. Google has been working on their own version of a driverless car since 2011 and has even been allowing some of their top executives to be driven to work in these autopilot automobiles.
Though Musk is in talks with Google concerning driverless cars, he also notes that their current technology is too expensive to be implemented. This, combined with other hurdles, such as governmental regulations, may keep any self-driving car, Tesla or otherwise, from hitting the market anytime soon.
In his interview, Musk mentions that one of the problems he has with the current state of driverless cars is the price of the technology and the terminology being used.
“I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” Musk told Bloomberg. “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.”
If Musk truly wants to develop a line of Tesla vehicles with autopilot capabilities built in, he´s doing well to begin his conversation with Google. The search giant has had a team working to solve this problem for years and has already demonstrated a working model of this futuristic car. Google has used a Toyota Prius as their prototype and have packed it with cameras, radar and lasers to guide the car through city streets, highways and even fast food drive-thru lanes. It even put a blind man in the driver's seat during the experiment.
Google is joined in the quest for the driverless car with DARPA, who plans to use the technology on the battlefield. Google likely feels good about their advancements so far and has said they expect to release solid technology in only five years.
Musk, on the other hand, believes that Google´s approach is too expensive to see widespread adoption.
“The problem with Google´s current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive,” said Musk. “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.”
Cost is something important to Musk. Tesla aims to make electric cars and the technological advancements held within to be affordable enough to be accessible to mainstream consumers. Tesla plans to one day sell a $30,000 model Tesla. When their first car was released, it started at $109,000.
Though Tesla aims to deliver this kind of car, Musk seems dubious about an actual Google partnership, noting that he´s only had talks with the search company.
“I think Tesla will most likely develop its own autopilot system for the car, as I think it should be camera-based, not Lidar-based,” said Musk. “However, it is also possible that we do something jointly with Google.”