The race is on to build self-driving cars

September 19, 2013 12:00 AM

Emerging technologies are continually bringing us one step closer to completely automating tasks, and now driving is the newest addition to this trend. Reuters reported that the electric car company Tesla Motors is working on creating a car that would take over 90 percent of the driving, bringing a whole new meaning to the term "auto pilot." While the automotive would eliminate much of the work in operating the car, vehicle maintenance and consistent tune ups will still be imperative.

How it works
Essentially, the car's computer system, which would be developed using Tesla's in-house technology, would handle the majority of the work, allowing the driver to take control when necessary. According to the news source, CEO Elon Musk expects the car to be produced by 2016, but analysts have said that it could take 10 to 15 years for these cars to be a reality. Tesla Motors is not the only firm with these aspirations, however: Tech giant Google and other competitors in the auto industry are attempting to launch a self-driving car into the market as well. Nissan, for example, has unveiled a plan to driverless cars by the end of the decade. Mercedes, on the other hand, is aiming to produce this kind of car by 2020, according to ExtremeTech.

A few roadblocks
Now, Tesla faces several obstacles before their self-driving cars can hit the road. In addition to technical challenges, Reuters noted that Tesla will need to deal with safety and legal issues before these cars are available to consumers. While they would largely prevent human error from causing an accident and would also be programmed to ensure traffic laws are abided by, European Union laws require that drivers have complete control over their automotive at all times.

Insurance companies are also dealing with two contradictory issues that could complicate whether they resist or embrace this new kind of car. ExtremeTech explained that while an abundance of accidents can hurt revenue, a shortage of issues can compromise an insurance company's position as a useful aspect of the industry.

However, the news outlet pointed out that Tesla has been successful in the past launching new technology despite tight regulatory processes, as well as targeting a niche consumer of auto consumers that are looking for the latest gadgets. In the meantime, ExtremeTech explained that cars are increasingly incorporating new technological features such as adaptive cruise control and automated movement of the tires when in traffic.

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