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Tesla Cars Will Soon Drive Themselves

Does Elon Musk really want to fight Google?

Michael Cruickshank
Tesla Cars Will Soon Drive Themselves© 2017 Tesla Motors

Tesla are the leaders in their field of battery-powered electric vehicles. Through their network of Supercharger stations and ultra efficient designs, they can build cars which have much the same capabilities as their petrol-fuelled equivalents. In addition, the company is in the process of a massive expansion phase, as it begins the construction of its new battery ‘Gigafactory’ which it hopes will drive down the cost of batteries through economies of scale.

But not even this is enough for the upstart manufacturer, which has now announced that it plans to get into the business of self-driving cars. In an interview with Bloomberg, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, explained that he was positioning Tesla to become one of the first companies offering cars with “autonomous driving capabilities”.

While it is yet unclear with what technology the company plans to build these autonomous cars, Musk also hinted that Tesla is in talks with Apple regarding a possible partnership on an unnamed project. Despite it being possible that Apple wants nothing more than to integrate its iOS into Tesla’s car dashboards, it is also possible that the companies are pooling their hardware and software into jointly developing a self driving car.

Does Tesla's move mean is Google in trouble?

Knowing this, is Google in trouble? Not yet anyway. Tesla has explained that while they are looking to increase the autonomy of their vehicles, they are intended to implement a system which resembles more an advanced cruise control than full autonomy. This function, which they refer to as an “autopiliot” would allow a computer to take control of the vehicle during some periods, while at others the driver would stay at the controls.

The technology they believe to actually implement this kind of autopilot, Tesla believes, is only a few years away, with mass market penetration little more than a decade away. Google’s full-autonomy technology though is still more a moonshoot project, as it involves creating vehicles with zero driver input, a task facing larger technical, but also regulatory hurdles. While a fight for supremacy over self-driving technology may emerge in the future, companies like Tesla and Google are not there yet.

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