CEO Elon Musk has always worked hard to ensure that Tesla cars are “sophisticated computer(s) on wheels,” but now Musk has made recent statements regarding the fact that the cars could soon be driving themselves with the latest features that the company plans to roll out. On Tuesday Musk was interviewed by chief executive of Nvidia, Jen-Hsun Huang. During the interview at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, musk made statements that reflected his belief that the company had solved the problem of self-driving cars, along with many other missing features that will soon be added to Tesla cars on the road.
Tesla has always been well known for making upgrades to all models “through the air” and according to Musk all Tesla cars already have enough technology inside to be able to drive themselves after the upgrades are performed. Recently Tesla sent out upgrades to their models that improved its acceleration. This week Musk said that an update will be sent out that will extend the range of the cars, as they have on them sensors that detect five meters out. An update will also put computer data into the system that will let Tesla cars detect where the closest recharging station is and will update every 30 seconds. Must said this is so that cars will never run out of “juice.” The company has a range of “superchargers” along major highways, with recharge the batteries with high-speed. Being able to determine where the next one is will reduce “range anxiety,” according to Musk.
Musk is hoping to improve functions like being able to switch lanes through detection of cars around it, so that the driver does not have to. He is also expecting to update the cars sensors so that it can pull itself in and out of garages, or find the owner when they press the “summon” button on their smartphone app. By pressing summon the car supposedly drives itself to the location of the owner. But the biggest update will be the one that Musk says is coming in three months, when Tesla expects to send out an update that will allow the car to have a self-steering feature for use on highways or private property.
Tesla has been testing this feature on a route from Seattle to San Francisco. Musk said test drivers almost never had to touch the controls while on the autonomous route. If this test proves successful Tesla cars could soon be able to drive themselves, with little interaction from the driver, except for the fact that Musk says it requires you to stay awake while at the wheel. He says that Tesla is still working on figuring out a feature that determines whether or not the driver is awake, for use.
Though it is not yet legal in all states to drive an autonomous car, there are many places that people can have self-driving cars on highways and private property. Musk says that they are still working on perfecting the feature for urban use. The problem comes with the median speeds that occur within city limits. As well, the car can not yet detect the presence of children crossing the road, missing lane marks on poor roads, and other features that come with driving on urban roads. But for highway use the Tesla Model S cars will be receiving new safety features like automatic breaking for emergencies, blind-spot detection and side-collision warnings.
All of the new features for Tesla cars will be sent automatically so that drivers can start using their features as soon as they are out. Though Tesla cars could soon be driving themselves with this new software and the automatic steering feature, the company is expecting at least three months time before the feature is ready. As Tesla continues to be a high version of technology, fit into a car, drivers are sure to see more features roll out, until the car is completely 100 percent autonomous. How many years will it be until that happens? Only time will tell.
By Crystal Boulware
Conrad Quilty-Harper – Creativecommons Flickr License