I’ve heard people refer to self-driving cars as nothing more than a “George Jetsons” future that won’t really happen, or at least is decades away. But Tesla just brought that reality into the present.
Yesterday the automaker announced that all their new cars going forward will be equipped with the hardware for full automation. That includes:
Eight surround cameras provide 360 degrees of visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength that is able to see through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.
The software won’t be activated right away, and customers will have to pay to access both the hardware and the software. Still, the era of autonomy is now within reach, and it will require policy makers to get ahead of the curve to ensure it doesn’t increase traffic.
The no-regrets solutions? Encourage car-sharing instead of vehicle ownership, and start charging drivers for the miles they drive rather than taxing them based on fuel.
You can see Tesla’s promotional video here, showing the self-drive in action: