Tesla to make all its new cars self-driving

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Source: BBC

Electric carmaker Tesla says all cars it now builds will have hardware needed to drive completely on their own.

But despite the cameras, sensors and radars being introduced, it is still expected to be years before the vehicles become fully self-driving.

Tesla introduced its Autopilot system last year, allowing some self-drive functions such as auto-braking.

But it is now temporarily disabling Autopilot on all new cars to allow “robust” testing with the new systems.

Gathering data

Tesla founder Elon Musk said its hardware was “basically a super-computer in a car,” but added it would be up to regulators and the public to decide when self-driving vehicles could actually be used on the roads.

He said it made sense to build in the self-driving tech now – even if it cannot be used for some time – because trying to retrofit the hardware at a later stage would cost consumers more than buying a new vehicle.

For now, the hardware will run in “shadow mode”, gathering information on when the technology may have caused or avoided accidents had it been in command of the vehicle.

Mr Musk said he hoped that Tesla could one day show regulators significant data which demonstrated the self-driving technology was safer than having humans behind the wheel.


Investor confidence boost – Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

SuperchargerImage copyrightTESLA
Image captionTesla’s cars are powered by the firm’s supercharger facility

This is a statement of intent from Elon Musk but there’s no real technological leap.

Google and pretty much everyone else in this game has the necessary sensor technology at the ready, but the research and development task in making the computer smart enough to intelligently work out what is going on around it. That’s what’s holding self-driving technology back right now.

What Tesla will gain by doing this, however, is a huge fleet of cars gathering data on the world’s roads, something which could hasten the introduction of self-driving technology.

It’s an announcement that seems more designed to keep up investor confidence that Tesla is still worth backing despite missing sales and revenue targets over the past year. He’d promised they’d be comfortably making a profit by now, but he certainly hasn’t managed that.

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