Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is currently in Japan to officially deliver the first Model S sedans to their long-awaiting owners. While there he took the time to give the Nikkei an interview, where he was quoted as saying Tesla would have semi-autonomous cars in three years time, and fully autonomous cars in five or six years.
While some automakers are toning back their bullish rhetoric on self-driving cars, Elon Musk is as adamant as ever that Tesla can deliver semi-autonomous cars in the next few years. If you recall, Musk was quoted almost exactly a year ago as saying a “90% autonomous car” could come from Tesla in three years time. The technology could even debut on the mass market Model III, though a refreshed Model S might make more sense given the costliness of the technology. Eventually though, Musk envisions a future where all Tesla vehicles will have auto-pilot capabilities.
How will Tesla do it? According to Musk, most of the software and programming will be done in-house, though the sensors and other components would be sourced from outside companies. There’s also the possibility of a partnership with a tech giant like Google, which has developed its own (though limited) autonomous car technology. Perhaps even Apple could cuddle up with Elon to make a self-driving car happen, though a dark horse like Rinspeed might make a move for the autonomous market.
Take Elon’s words with a grain of salt though. His timelines are sometimes more ambitious than realistic, and it might not be until 2030 or later that truly autonomous cars can take to the road. Or it might be less than half a decade from now, and it might be Mercedes or Volvo, not Tesla, that brings a self-driving car to market first.
Where are you placing your bets?