Buy a Self Driving Car!
You can buy self driving cars already! The Mercedes S class drives in traffic jams under your supervision. Most car companies have plans for similar products in the coming soon, covering things like traffic jams and highway driving.
Tesla is rolling out self driving cars but states, “It involves a lot of hardware and a steady stream of software updates.” Eighteen months ago, Tesla Motors embarked on an initiative that would sow the seeds for its self-driving car project. The Elon Musk-led automobile company wanted to give its vehicles the ability to drive themselves, but it didn’t just want to introduce the technology without thorough testing, Sterling Anderson, Tesla’s director of autopilot programs, explained on Tuesday at an MIT Tech Review technology conference in San Francisco.
So Tesla began to “quietly” install equipment into its existing Model S cars that would let Tesla engineers slowly make software updates over time, Anderson said. These software updates would take advantage of the newly installed 12 ultrasonic sensors embedded in the vehicle, forward-facing radar system, and GPS hardware. This hardware and software combination would also give Tesla the the ability to pull “high resolution” data from cars, Anderson said. The company could then analyze the data and learn how driver use their cars and how they react to the features Tesla steadily rolled out over the next 18 months like its cruise control, collision warning update, and its auto parallel parking feature.
With the upgrades, Anderson now believes Tesla is at the forefront, although that is open to debate.
“We have found that there is no substitute for empirical real world data,” Anderson said, saying his company gets data from real-life situations rather than experiments—a subtle dig at Google, which is testing its own self-driving cars.
Anderson said that Tesla vehicles with installed self-driving hardware have driven roughly 780 million miles since October 2014. Those vehicles drive on average, 2.26 million miles per day, he said. Over the last seven months, Tesla cars with the autopilot feature turned on have driven around 100 million miles, he continued.
Tesla has also learned from its driver data that its vehicles, when on autopilot, can drive better than their human operators in some situations. For example, Tesla cars in autopilot mode tend to better stay in the center of road lanes than humans, who tend to veer too far to the right or left.
That information will be helpful to Tesla as it continues to “refine the features” of autopilot, Anderson said. Still, Tesla has a lot more to learn about driver habits as it continues to improve its software. Musk told Fortune in December that it may be two years before Tesla has fully autonomous cars. Each software update essentially represents a step to a complete, autonomous car.
One of the biggest challenges facing the company is the having to introduce its software updates and new features worldwide. However, driving laws and road markings may be different from country to country, which makes it difficult for a one-size-fits all autopilot feature.
“It is easy to do a demo on a ten mile stretch of road that will wow spectators,” said Anderson. “It is enormously more difficult to robustly capture all the use cases in the world.”
Volvo says it will have self driving cars by 2017 and are already on Swedish roads. Tesla says they will have a product that does “90%” of driving in 2016. Google says non-Googlers will be trying their cars for testing in a year. Nissan says it will sell cars in 2018, Daimler in 2020 that do full self-driving. Google will probably be sooner though. For information about Volvo’s self driving car visit Volvo. Even in a self-driving car, you’re always in control when you want to be. You can mix and match your journey with both autonomous and active driving. And there is no doubt that Autopilot driving technology has the potential to improve road safety dramatically, helping Volvo Cars to reach its goal that nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020. Since you need to brake and accelerate less in your self-driving car, you’ll use significantly less fuel—up to up to 50 per cent in certain situations. That means lower bills for you, fewer harmful emissions for the environment, and better air quality for all.