If you think that autonomous cars are a technology that is at least a decade into the future, Tesla and other automakers are about to prove you wrong. The CEO of California-based electric car company, Elon Musk, announced recently to Nikkei that he expects autonomous or self-driving Teslas sometime in the next three years. In other words, by 2017 you could have a fully-electric car drive you in rush hour traffic, eliminating much of your stress and all of your tailpipe emissions.
Before you get too excited, know that Musk wasn’t talking about full-blown autonomous vehicle technology. Producing cars that can just drive themselves will take about five or six years for Tesla to accomplish, according to Musk. Some of the early autonomous systems should make an appearance in the budget-friendly Tesla Model 3, which coincidentally is set to launch in three years.
People have noted that the Model S sedan does not have the kinds of driver-assistance technologies that car shoppers looking at luxury models have come to just expect. Considering that Tesla tries to portray itself as always being on the cusp of technological innovation, the current absence of such systems is surprising.
There’s no telling how everyone will react to this news. It seems that some people have chosen to fear Tesla and oppose the automaker on its every movement. There are also a number of Tesla fanboys who feel the brand can do no wrong. For the average consumer, the issue of autonomous technology likely will come down to if it makes life easier for car owners.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Musk also hinted at a potential new partnership with Toyota on a project he called “significant.”