posted on September 20, 2013 |
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Elon Musk is in the business of taking on huge innovation challenges and delivering. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO predicted that his company’s cars would be 90 percent autonomous within three years.
“We should be able to do 90 percent of miles driven within three years,” [Musk] said. Mr Musk would not reveal further details of Tesla’s autonomy project, but said it was “internal development” rather than technology being supplied by another company. “It’s not speculation,” he said.”
While 90 percent autonomy seems like its nine-tenths the way toward complete autonomy, Musk believes most of the hardest work will happen as the company tries to develop solutions to complete its autonomous car project. “It’s incredibly hard to get the last few percent." Said Musk.
Although Tesla, Google and others could conceivably have nearly, or completely, autonomous cars ready for consumers by the end of the decade, the companies are still worried about the legal ramifications of autonomous cars.
And it’s not just the Googles and Teslas of the world who are worried about this issue. According to an interview with Reuters, “"One person familiar with Google’s efforts said carmakers had been hesitant about adopting the Google technology because of the potential liabilities from accidents involving robot cars. Google would not comment."
Eventually, autonomous vehicles will find their way onto the road and somewhere thereafter an autonomous car will be involved in an accident. Accepting that fact, and the underlying truth that systems fail, is a core component of innovation.
I for one hope that potential legal battles don’t hold up the release of autonomous vehicles. Although its only speculation I image they’ll be much safer than current cars. What’s more, autonomous cars could free up hundreds of millions of man-hours once spent driving for activities that are much more productive, or at least enjoyable.
Image Courtesy of Tesla
Source: The Financial Times, Reuters