Elon Musk, CEO if Tesla Motors, said the electric-car maker is considering adding driverless technology to its vehicles and discussing the prospects for such systems with Google.
Musk believes that technology that can take over for drivers are a logical step in the evolution of cars. He has talked with Google about the self-driving technology it’s been developing, though he prefers to think of applications that are more like an airplane’s autopilot system.
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.
Google’s current driverless fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids is equipped with laser-radar devices mounted on the roofs.
“The problem with Google’s current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive,” Musk said. “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.”
Robotic technology from Oxford University that enables a car to ‘drive itself’ for stretches of a route has been shown driving a Nissan Leaf electric car. They use digital cameras and iPads. At the moment it is estimated that the prototype navigation system costs around £5,000 (US$7700). ‘Long-term, our goal is to produce a system costing around £100 (US$160).
“We’ve had some technical discussions with Google” about its Light Detection and Ranging, or Lidar, laser tracking system, Musk said last week, noting that it’s an expensive approach that may not prove feasible, Musk said.
“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,” Musk said yesterday in an e-mail. “However, it is also possible that we do something jointly with Google.”