Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) CEO Elon Musk has sat down at his crystal ball again, and come up with a big pronouncement.
Self-driving cars will become a reality for 90% of miles driven within three years, according to the iconic CEO of 2013's most disruptive company. (You'll need to own a Tesla, of course, for Musk's prediction to come true.)
Google may have been the first to make any significant progress in self-driving cars, but Musk seems set on seeing the technology through. Just witness these recent tweets he penned:
Intense effort under way at Tesla to develop a practical autopilot system for Model S— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 18, 2013
Engineers interested in working on autonomous driving, pls email firstname.lastname@example.org. Team will report directly to me.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 18, 2013
Approach is 360 deg flush mounted tiny cameras + radar (prob not lidar). Lot of software & hardware level image processing.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 18, 2013
Musk certainly isn't the first to get excited about self-driving cars. Beyond Google's well-known autonomous driving technology, Mercedes-Benz, German auto technology supplier Continental, and Volvo have all experimented with autonomous driving technology, explainsFinancial Times journalist Richard Waters. What's more, Waters continues, Nissan recently asserted that it plans to bring an autonomous car to market by 2020.
But Musk's sudden boldness trumps all of this previous hype. Self-driving cars by 2016 would mark a remarkable feat for electric car-maker.
Autonomous driving, of course, has its critics. Primary concerns are centered on liability issues. Perhaps that's one reason why Musk seems to have no intention of building a fully autonomous car.
"My opinion is it's a bridge far to go to fully autonomous cars ... It's incredibly hard to get the last few percent," Musk told Waters. Musk prefers the term "autopilot" over autonomous driving.
Tesla's advanced autopilot system is "not speculation," Musk told the Financial Times. It's an internal project, he asserted.
If anyone can do it, it's Musk
With Tesla's stock up about 450% over the past twelve months, the Street has become accustomed to surprises from Musk and Tesla. After the company's sudden, successful launch into the luxury car market with the fully electric Model S, the CEO's projections aren't taken lightly.
If anyone can pioneer self-driving cars for the masses, it might be Musk. The guy who developed a 58-page plan for the Hyperloop in his spare time clearly isn't your typical CEO.
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