Tesla to Have “Autopilot” Vehicle Within 3 Years


While some call it autonomous, Tesla CEO Elon Musk prefers the term autopilot.

Autopilot Engaged

Autopilot Engaged

Regardless of what it’s called, self-driving vehicles are just around the corner.

Nissan says that “corner” is 2020.

Meanwhile, Tesla says it’ll turn the “corner” is just three years.

That’s the latest time-frame prediction from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who says the automaker will have ready its first “autopilot” vehicle within 3 years.

Ambitious?  Absolutely, but when has Musk been proven wrong?

To us, it seems that when Musk makes a bold statement such as this, the work is already well underway.  What’s likely the case is that Tesla already has a partially functioning “autopilot” vehicle hidden away at its facility in Fremont, California.

Sure, it likely needs some tweaking still, but Tesla has 3 years to tweak away.

How does “autopilot” differ from autonomous?  Well, as Musk told Financial Times, Tesla’s approach is to allow the driver to control 10% of the driving duties, while the other 90% will be handled by the vehicle’s various systems.  And just like you’d expect, autopilot in a Tesla can be switched on or off.

Tesla won’t outsource this “autopilot” project and, as such, is seeking an advanced driver assistance systems controls engineer, who will be responsible for helping “Tesla’s effort to pioneer fully automated driving,” according to Automotive News.

Source: Financial Times

Categories: Tesla

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26 Comments on "Tesla to Have “Autopilot” Vehicle Within 3 Years"

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Great news, now terrorists won’t have to sacrifice themselves with their drive-by car bombings.

As opposed to dumbasses sacrificing themselves with their drive-into crashes, I think it will be a net gain overall.

That was never necessary.
It has been possible for decades to remote control a car.

That’s where the auto-destruct feature comes in!

..so the driver remains needed to handle those 10% of the “driving duties”. Aha, big difference compared to Google or Nissan’s ambitions.

Depending how those “duties” are defined (does it include for example deciding what turn to take at the next intersection? We already have nav for that), Tesla’s autopilot doesn’t have to be anything more than Chevy’s supercruise…

Well, I think they’ll define the target, equip the car with necessary sensors and then they can software-update their way to autopilot.

Going after 85%-90% of the low hanging fruit and coming out first is just one more brilliant move by Elon Musk. IMO a side benefit “might” have some of the public relating this to EVs (which of course it is not) since that is all Tesla manufactures. This technology is definitely on the way. Cudos one more time to Elon. I-AM-IRON-MAN

Right. Self-driving is just waiting for failure to cause an accident. Autopilot basically says it’ll be introduction and evolution of safety technology, but never excusing people being distracted.

I think this is one item Tesla will miss the deadline on. 3 years, no way. Sorry, but i’m very skeptical on auto-pilot cars. Pilot-assist, yes, those features can be integrated, but I don’t see me getting out of my car and telling it to go park itself anytime soon.

Uh, if you get out of your car, that’s not auto-pilot, that’s self-driving. Auto-pilot requires you to be inside it to control it.

Sure it is. Nothing says “auto-pilot” requires a human sitting there doing nothing. You’re describing pilot-assist. If it makes you happy, I’ll say this then; I don’t see myself sitting in my car in my garage in the morning and saying “Take me to work”, and 20 minutes later I’m there w/out any other interaction from me other than changing the radio stations.

Auto-pilot is an airplane analogy. The important element of the analogy is that airplanes have a pilot on board.

I’d say the important element is the car is driving itself w/out user input.

A pilot can leave the seat or go to sleep. Some can even take off and land on their own but someone probably has to push the botton.
Autopilot is a valid term for full autonomy.

And ideally we’d want it to be able to drive while a drunk sleeps in the back. Legal drunk driving. That would be convenient for many.

That could also lead to kid cars.

What “ItsNotAboutTheMoney” said. Auto pilot is a term used on aircraft and watercraft. In both cases, the task is easier because there aren’t roads per se. Also, in the existing meaning, collision avoidance isn’t necessarily part of auto pilot. An airplane has “auto pilot”, but a human does not say “Take me to SFO”, and the airplane takes off, navigate to and then land at SFO. The pilot takes off, reaches the necessary altitude and then sets auto pilot. A boat has “auto pilot”, but a human does not say “Take me to New York Harbor”. A captain carefully casts off, pulls out of port, and then sets auto pilot in open water. The analogy here could be (*speculating) you drive your car out of your neighborhood, and merge onto the highway. THEN you engage autopilot. When you get to your destination, the car alerts you, and you disengage auto pilot and exit the highway. In my mind, this could be what Musk refers to as the “10%”, which may be more like 40% of your mileage and 80% of the challenge of auto pilot. His success could be precisely because he reframed the problem.

Autopilot is the easy part – once you’re on the highway, you tell it the destination and it knows what exit to get off on the highway, and drive down the road. Then pull into the parking lot and you have to park the car or something like that.

If all people have to do is back out of parking spots and get on the road, and let the car drive, and then park in a parking spot when they arrive, that’s a huge win for safety.

The good news is that companies like Continental will have all the sensors needed for autopilot ready OEMs in 2015-16. So Tesla just needs to just take those sensors (I’m sure they have early access now) and start writing the necessary software. Thats what will take a while. But if I were Tesla, I’d start equiping cars as soon as possible with the sensors and the computer hardware on board to do all the work, and then just roll out the software as it is validated – in 2017 it could be highway autopilot, in 2018 highway and city autopilot, etc.

I don’t think any of it is “easy”, that’s why I’m skeptical. The main “sensors” are cameras. Good luck getting the CPU to recognize lines on the road in snowstorms, in rainstorms, or where the lines have faded, or where there are none to begin with. I can think of a million other “what if” scenarios. AGV’s work great in controlled environments, but America’s roads are not a controlled environment.

I’m with kdawg that it wouldn’t be that easy at times, which is why they’re couching it as auto-pilot: auto-pilot handles the easy stuff and then requires input for anything it can’t handle.

The parking at the end would be something _mostly_ done by the car. Touch a space on a camera image, car indicates the space, you confirm, car maneuvers into space. Parking quality should be better, but I expect SUVs and minivans will have the “disabled-placard-holder-diagonally-across-the-space-and-hatching” mode, BMWs will have a “middle-of-two-spaces” mode and pick-ups will have a “screw it, I can’t fit in the space anyway” mode.

By using the Airplane! photo, you have to see the obligatory clip.

Let me get this straight; I can get a license to carry and use a gun but I still can’t get a driver’s license? JFR, I think both are a bad idea for blind people JMO

In 3 years Must will be camping on Mars and driving his autonomous Tesla 90% of the distance. Well… considering how light the traffic on Mars is it could be as well 100%.

Hmmm. Auto driving cars –> fewer (if any) accidents –> reduced crash safety standards needed –> cars get lighter –> cars get more efficient –> car makers go out of business because no one needs to replace their smashed-up car. 🙂

You forgot car insurance becomes obsolete.


Ohhh snap! Your driving application has crashed!

Would you like me to terminate it?

Are you going to avoid that semi?

Haha, no… you’re thinking of MyFord Touch.

I dint mind my cruise control changing my speed to avoid rear ending another vehicle, I don’t mind haptic feedback on the steering wheel to prevent me from drifting out of my lane. I can tolerate my GPS telling me to turn left here. I might allow it to preemptively put on my turn signal… But at least for now, I want 85% of the control…