The debate around the wisdom of self-driving cars looks set to continue for some time to come. But here’s a recent story that might lead you to rethink your position.
Just last month, a Tesla Model X (beautiful to behold) driver claimed that his car had probably saved his life. Now that is one very strong sales proposition – Not only does the vehicle get you to your destination on time with zero emissions, but it can also save your life.
The driver was joyfully driving his new one-week-old Tesla when he suffered a pulmonary embolism. Just so we keep things in perspective, about one-third of people don’t survive an untreated or undiagnosed pulmonary embolism so there was justifiable cause for major concern. Gasping and in too much pain to control the vehicle, he switched to the car’s auto-driving feature and managed to get to the nearest hospital.
So which camp are you in? Do you back the “life-saving” car or are you still nervous because of the accident that occurred four months ago, when a Florida Tesla driver was killed when his self-driving car collided into a truck?
We all know in which camp Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla) sits. He’s sure that Tesla’s self-driving cars will be available soon and he does not expect them to disappoint.
He said it pretty clearly; “Autonomy is going to come a hell of a lot faster than anyone thinks it will, and I think what we’ve got under development is going to blow people’s minds. It blows my mind.” He used to talk about 2018 as the year, but did warn that government regulations regulating self-driving cars would probably not be ready to implement by then. In the nearer term, he aims to make Tesla’s Autopilot, which is a semi-autonomous system, at least ten times safer than the current average.
There are a number of major automakers and tech companies that are in the race (e.g. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Google and Apple). Many of them have a roll-out plan similar to Tesla’s – First to release Autopilot-like functionality (like autonomous highway driving and self-parking ability) and only then to go for the complete package.
No technology is perfect, and autonomous driving is still a work-in-process. The one thing we’re one hundred percent sure of is that this technology is so tantalizingly interesting it’s not going to be a boring ride.
Dare we say “Buckle up folks!”?