Until Google licenses its driverless car technology to automakers, Tesla Motors will offer the closest thing to a self-driving car with its latest Model S, which arrives in early 2015.
The company unveiled its dual-motor Model S last Thursday, which comes with a new feature called Autopilot. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk says he chose that name so others wouldn’t confuse it for a full self-driving experience; he likened the functionality in the car to autopilot in aeroplanes, “where there is still an expectation that there will be a pilot.”
While Tesla’s newest car is a step toward autonomy, Musk believes there will be fully autonomous cars on the road in about half a decade.
“Maybe five or six years from now I think we’ll be able to achieve true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep and wake up at your destination,” Musk told Bloomberg Television.
Musk said it will likely take “a few years” when regulators finally sign off on this new technology.
Earlier this year, Musk told Bloomberg TV he expects Tesla to be “the first company to market with significant autonomous driving function in the vehicles.”
Autopilot in the new dual-motor Model S can keep your car safely in the lane (and even change lines by itself after you signal), obey the speed limits, and observe and avoid obstacles. It can even park itself in your garage, and you can summon the car to arrive at your location with your favourite music playing and the A/C running. You can learn more about the new car here.