Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Offer Self-Driving Cars Within 3 Years

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Tesla Motors is currently aiming to have a self-driving, autonomous car built within the next three years, according to the famous Tesla CEO Elon Musk. If that goal is met, that means that Tesla will beat its rivals — Mercedes-Benz and Nissan — to the market by at least a couple of years.

Self-driving cars, also referred to as “autonomous cars,” have been in the news quite a lot over the past couple of years, but no firm dates have been put down with regard to when they will be available on the consumer market. However, with the recent announcement, and Tesla’s track record for that matter, it looks like that may now be changing. Elon Musk made the somewhat surprising announcement during an interview with the British Financial Times.

Image Credit: Tesla Motors

According to Musk, the new technology will be developed completely within house — not via a partnership with Google. Google has already, independently, developed its own self-driving technology, which is currently still in the process of being tested. What this means, as Stephen Edelstein of Green Car Reports makes note, is that this technology is being developed with “the same mentality that guided (the) development of the Model S.” A good sign no doubt.

With the three-year goal in mind, Tesla recently posted a job listing on its website for an “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Controls Engineer” — essentially, just the person who could “spearhead Tesla’s autonomous car efforts.”

More on the technology via Green Car Reports:

Musk refers to Tesla’s self-driving technology as an “autopilot,” calling a fully-autonomous car a “bridge too far” in the Financial Times interview. Drivers will reportedly be able to switch the system on and off, just like an airplane’s autopilot.

This could potentially allow Tesla to sidestep the many legal issues surrounding self-driving cars. So far, California and Nevada have legalized testing of these cars on public roads, but their status in other states is ambiguous at best.

In the race to put a self-driving car into production, Tesla’s main automotive rivals will be Mercedes and Nissan, both of which have pledged to put autonomous vehicles into production by 2020. Mercedes took its fully-autonomous S-Class prototype on a 60-mile trip in Germany last month. Nissan showed a prototype autonomous car based on the Leaf at its Nissan 360 event in Arizona.

With regard to Tesla’s competitors in the self-driving/autonomous car field, be sure to check out CleanTechnica‘s exclusive firsthand experience with Nissan’s completely autonomous version of the LEAF.


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