Briskly moving with driverless technology Tesla pokes regulators to catch up

Published :21 October 2016

Elon Musk is of opinion that driverless technology does not remain a far cry now; it is only a matter of time that this technology would be commonly used in cars. The regulatory issues would be the only concern in future. According to him the cars produced by the company will be having all the hardware that is required by them to be transformed into self driving cars, only software and road rules are the delaying factors.

The company had recently posted a video that showed a Tesla Model S driving itself around highways and streets in Silicon Valley, pulling into a Tesla parking lot, searching for a spot and parking itself.

Musk said he targets to dispatch a driverless vehicle from Los Angeles to New York by the end of next year“This is going to have a big impact forcing the hands of regulators,” said Mike Ramsey of market researcher Gartner. And on other automakers, too: “If [Tesla] its successful the others will be saying ‘we are so far behind!’ ”

Automakers have said driverless cars could be ready for sale within three to five years, but Tesla appears to be moving faster.

The regulatory authorities also seem to be caching up with the pace with which the technology is surging ahead .For example The National Highway and Safety Administration issued loose guidelines for driverless car regulation last month, urging states and cities to coordinate new rules. The federal government, which sets the driving rules in their respective states, also believes the technology will dramatically reduce traffic crashes and deaths.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has produced draft regulations and is seeking public comment before they’re made final.

The automotive industry generally welcomes rules that provide certainty but opposes those that it believes will impede the progress of driverless technology.

The new Tesla hardware includes eight cameras that provide 360-degree visibility, 12 ultrasonic sensors with added sensitivity, and a forward-facing radar the company says will see through heavy rain, fog, dust “and even the car ahead.”

The newly equipped vehicles will be nearly indistinguishable from existing models and won’t look anything like the experimental driverless cars whose rooftops are loaded with obtrusive technology that makes them look like mobile radar stations. “There is nothing sticking out,” Musk told reporters. “This in no way makes the car ugly.”

The new sensor and processor package, which Musk referred to as Hardware 2, will be equipped with “a new onboard computer with more than 40 times the computing power of the previous generation,” the company said.

Nvidia will be making  the new computer board, which will use the company’s Titan processor.It is working on demonstration projects with most major automakers and this year formed a development partnership with BMW and Israeli vision software company Mobileye.

Option to upgrade will not be available to the current Tesla owners. “It’s not realistic,” Musk said. “It would be like giving the cars a spinal cord transplant.”

The new package, he said, will add $8,000 to the cost of each car, although how that will affect consumer pricing is yet to be determined. The current hardware suite adds $3,000 in cost, he said.

The cars won’t make full use of the new hardware for some time but will add capabilities to the company’s existing Autopilot driver-assist technology, including lane keeping and collision avoidance.

It can be said that driverless software would be operating in “shadow” mode behind the scenes.The company’s cars are connected to a cloud computing system that Tesla takes feedback from the cars and sends back improved software. The company calls it “fleet learning.”


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