Auto-Pilot Within The Next 3 Years

Auto-Pilot Within The Next 3 Years

The article said "Auto-pilot" feature would be available the next three years according to Elon Musk.

This news comes alot faster than what I could expect!!!

That's great! I can't wait. I am saving money for the next 3 years. I'll post my new Model S with "no hands on wheel " in 2016!

Pictures below are real, captions are not because current Model S has no Accident Avoidance technology.

Front radar malfunction: There goes seafood restaurant!

Lane Departure Avoidance failure: Fatalities should have been avoided.

Multiple failures--radar, adaptive cruise control, self braking...: utility pole completely severed.

GDH | 17. September 2013

My Volvo has all that stuff, it's a love hate relationship. I am glad that I have it but sometimes it's annoying, its like driving an ambulance with the lights and sirens on. when all the warnings go off it freaks me out.

Thomas N. | 17. September 2013

Wow, what a tasteless post. I know the backstory on all of those accidents. Bizarre post.

Tâm | 17. September 2013


In a poor design, it's just like an alarm. A warning system can only do so much. Constant exposure to alarms can wear us out and defeat its original purpose.

A better system is Google autonomous car. No alarm needed. It reads posted speed for in the dark night full of fog and it avoids accidents with a good track records so far.

@ Thomas N.

We do not want any accidents, but it happens. There's no hiding it!

Each of above accident pictures are proof that Tesla Model S protects its occupants as if we are in a tank.

Each of those pictures is a testimony of how great engineering and design that protects us owners.

Remember that in the lab, they could not get the Model S flip over?

The utility pole picture proves that it is not just a theory in the laboratory. It's real life. The Model S severed the utility pole and it rested up right on the right hand side of the picture.

It is not unreasonable to add for an accident avoidance system in adjunct to the greatness of Model S.

Thomas N. | 17. September 2013

The head-on collision accident on the 133 in Laguna is about 8 miles from my home. A Mercedes and a Model S had some type of race/macho/drink-throwing incident and two lanes merged into one and the Model S didn't make it for some reason and killed an eldery couple in their Honda Accord.

Their crime was just driving down a road at a safe speed.

To suggest that lane departure avoidance could have helped in any way in this accident is ludicrous. So the car would beep a couple times saying "Get in your lane". I'm sure that would have helped.

And the sheered telephone pole was a woman that was drunk taking her parent's Model S and blasting down the highway out of control. Not sure what radar and self-braking would do in that instance either.

Maybe I'm out of line and if so I apologize. I just found that using those pictures and those accidents as demonstrations of how drive-by-wire will solve all our problems was tasteless.

Dramsey | 17. September 2013

Don't hold your breath. There will be no autonomous cars without a regulatory framework, and it will take longer to develop that than it does to develop the cars!

appljd | 17. September 2013

I'm not a big fan of any auto-pilot cars.

1) I enjoy driving my Model S more then any other car I have ever driven. Why would I want to have it self-drive ?

2) Driving is no longer a chore with my Model S.

3) I am not a big fan of further "relying" on Google or any other "free" service to analyse my private information and sell me more ads as I am watching it drive.

Tâm | 17. September 2013

@Thomas N.

Thanks for sharing the background on those accidents.

1) Irresponsible Racing:
Current Google autonomous car will not allow itself to drive above posted speed. Thus, this technology is not for speed-maniac drivers.

Again, current autonomous car does not allow lane departure. It steers itself and does not allow itself to stray into oncoming traffic.

Also, when it senses impending collision from afar, it would steers itself from danger or slows down and stops itself.
Thus, no one had to die even if there are unsafe drivers in Google autonomous car.

2) Sheered pole:

If the drunk was in Google autonomous car, the car would obeys all traffic laws including various speed signs. It would not allow itself to deviate from its lane and it cannot allow itself to run off the road to hit the pole.

Thus, Google autonomous car protects human and poles from those drunks!


Google autonomous car is not a warning system. It is an accident avoidance system so nobody has to die and no objects have to be damaged.

@Thomas N.: I understand you clearly. It seems to be ludicrous and bizarre but it is not a fantasy to prevent deaths and destructions.

The future is here, it is a matter of who can first solve the problem of packaging (hide it in your Model S) and economy .

Robert22 | 17. September 2013

The regulatory issues are indeed going to be the stumbling blocks, not the technology. One of he problems being discussed several months ago was liability. If an autonomous car damages property or persons, who do you blame and who gets stuck with the bill?

RanjitC | 17. September 2013

Imagine all the drunks who would buy autonomous cars!!! No more DUI's

GDH | 17. September 2013


Or a bad driver that does things to set the alarms off *caugh*

shop | 17. September 2013

Interesting link in the top post, Tam, thanks for posting it.

I am impressed as anyone as to how far, how fast Elon has advanced cars and rockets.

But I think he is underestimating the challenge of autonomous driving. He has stated (to me, at the battery pack swap event) that he doesn't think true AI will be needed for autonomous driving. You might not need a fully conscious computer, but you need something darn close for a car to drive in unpredictable urban environments with construction workers, accidents and everything else humans deal with. Just solving the vision problem (ie. being able to understand a high resolution video image in real time) hasn't yet been solved with today's technology. And Elon thinks he can do that with a small group in three years?

If anyone can, he can, but I think it'll take a lot longer.

Ps. Elon, if you're reading this, take a look at the SpiNNaker project at the University of Manchester - cheap, low power hardware to implement a very large neuron network. No one else has solved the massively parallel network network needed for fast vision and other cognitive processing, but these guys have.

danej | 17. September 2013

@Tam, you wrote:

1) Irresponsible Racing:
Current Google autonomous car will not allow itself to drive above posted speed. Thus, this technology is not for speed-maniac drivers.

If it drove down the road at the posted speed limit, we'd be constantly passed by all the other cars on the road. Many would honk, and/or flash interesting hand signals at us for blocking up traffic.

I love the idea of an auto-pilot for cars, particularly for freeway driving. But please, we need them to be permitted to go FASTER, not slower than everyone else, or there will be little interest from the public in this slow new innovation.


Brian H | 18. September 2013

shear = cut (may be a verb)
sheer = steep or see-through (never a verb)

The Joy of Driving is about to go to war with Regulated Traffic. The result will not be The Joy of Regulation.

Dreamknightmanga | 18. September 2013

All this post does is prove one thing that Elon can not fix. Some people will find a way to be idiots on the road.

RedShift | 18. September 2013

I hope the guy who drives his hybrid/small EV going 50 in the 65 zone buys this technology.

At least, my nerves will be less frayed.

PBEndo | 18. September 2013

@Dramsey and @Robert22
Three states already allow driverless cars (Florida, Nevada and California) so the regulatory problems may be solved quicker than you think.

Dramsey | 18. September 2013

No, those states allow very limited deployment of autonomous research vehicles under very strict conditions. No state allows fully autonomous cars, nor is it likely they will in the near future.

Think of all the mind-bendingly stupid regulations we have now-- third brake lights and the ethanol mandate come to mind. Don't hold your breath waiting for the clowns and thugs in DC to let us serfs have autonomous cars.

PBEndo | 18. September 2013

I didn't say autonomous cars are already allowed in unrestricted use, just that the regulatory issues may be resolved sooner than you think. If these three states quickly allowed the restricted use, the politicians are open to the idea. Like anything political, what will matter most is what parties want to get it done and how deep their pockets are. I see the alcoholic beverage industry as a big supporter of driverless cars, in addition to the more obvious (Google and automobile industry) interests.

PBEndo | 18. September 2013

What happens if a child prodigy software developer writes the code to control a driverless car if they are under 16 years of age?
Would they be allowed to ride in the car without a license?

GDH | 18. September 2013

I just saw a segment on the Today show about this and there was a Model S in the background LOL

There's a tech show on it tonight, not sure what channel but i am sure there is something about it on the Today Show website.

carlk | 18. September 2013

Computer is a way much safer driver than human and that's the fact.

SamO | 18. September 2013


California actually has mandatory CHP rulemaking required to allow autonomous cars on the roads in commercial use by 1/1/2015

Take a look at this wiki for driverless car laws by state. It's really very informative:

PBEndo | 18. September 2013

Elon says it is too hard to have the car be 100% autonomous. He is aiming for 90% autonomy and the driver will still be required to handle the other 10%. I wonder how attentive drivers will be when they are only needed for 10% of the driving. As it is now, just using cruise control or speed limiters causes a noticeable decrease in alertness.

JZ13 | 18. September 2013

To those posting concerns about freedom to drive as fast as you want the cars will obviously maintain the capability to be driven with the autopilot turned off.

And for those who don't think they would ever use the technolgy have you considered the following circumstances:

- Commuters who would rather surf the internet than drive in stop and go traffic for an hour
- Drivers who are concerned about safety and know that the computer is safer than they are
- People who had a glass or two of wine with dinner
- Someone having a health issue or emergency

I'm sure there are many other situations that an autopilot feature would be of use for. I am very excited for this technology to come out.

jcaspar1 | 18. September 2013

I have no interest in this. Might as well ride the bus! :)

Dramsey | 18. September 2013

I didn't say autonomous cars are already allowed in unrestricted use, just that the regulatory issues may be resolved sooner than you think. If these three states quickly allowed the restricted use, the politicians are open to the idea. Like anything political, what will matter most is what parties want to get it done and how deep their pockets are.

Well, I live in hope. But I remember how many decades we had to wait before we could use anything but 5.25" or 7" round, sealed-beam headlights, when the rest of the world had vastly superior replaceable-bulb halogen lamps.

(Oh, yeah, and there were a couple of horrible years of rectangular sealed beam headlights as well...)

Tâm | 18. September 2013


It is an option that's only available IF you want to buy.

If you don't pay, you don't have to live with that option.

1)Why: Some people want to have a cheap chauffeur, some likes technology, blind people can't legally drive but still want to own a car that drive them legally, I love the promise of not hurting a soul or a pole, but if you don't want the autonomous driving option then there is no need to pay extra for it. You keep on saving.

(@ pbendo: Thanks for enumeration of some reasons for Autonomous driving.)

2) I agree that driving is no longer a chore with my Model S but I also want to have a peace of mind knowing that another being or object will never be run over by me! "Never" is never a good choice of word but so far the track record is very good.

3) No more Google snooping: You've got the true motive of Google. I did not think about it until you mentioned. It cares about your safety in your car because it wants you to be alive and read its ads! How about if Tesla can make one so we don't have to read Google's ads :)


I imagine technology creators will have to work with lawyers to
figure it out.

Many people were concerned about insurance rate for an electric car but it turned out to be fine!

I guess for now, an owner of a robot is responsible when it goes rogue. Then the owner can sue the creator for the defects.

Yes, it's messy but Tesla has never waited around for the establishment to catch up:

1) Superchargers at 120kWh while the industry standard is still confusing between ChaDemo and Combo Coupler and still behind for now at their current fastest speed of 20 to 50kWh,

2) No dealership model against current law,

3) Model X side cameras instead of side mirrors against current law...


Thanks for sharing the insight. I guess we can never cease amazement at how Elon pushes himself against deadlines.


Slow law-abiding autonomous car sees layers of cars ahead and it can follow the safest path to change to the best moving lane.

In the mean time, a speed maniac driver cannot see what beyond a big truck in front and may want to turn to left lane which , if the driver could see layers ahead, would result in slower lane down the road.

Also, a slow law-abiding Tesla autonomous car can crazily accelerate with a feel good G-force to close the gap in front consistently because it knows exactly safe distance for a complete stop and it does not need to waste unnecessary gap in front.

A speed maniac driver can vary the speed wildly, swinging from very fast to very slow , all reactions with no plan or interactions with what beyond a few layers of cars and trucks in front.

However, driving according to posted speed limit signs are slow but because it efficiently uses all the data surrounding it, which lanes are fastest, where's an empty space in a lane beyond your vision, how much space to shrink in front... and it does so CONSISTENTLY and effortlessly, so it is actually reaches destination faster than a rabbit. or in this case a speed maniac driver can!

My primary needs is to avoid human and property damages.

My bonus is, I would get a robot that reacts like a chess master that can see far ahead beyond my vision and it knows exactly what the next move should be and arrive safely.

There is no need to pay for what you do not want: Autonomous driving is an option so see if it fits your needs or not!


Thanks for consistently being our spell checker.


Minor ride: I imagine, eventually, it'll be just like a private taxi service that will drive blind people to work or little kids to their schools.

carlk | 18. September 2013

@JZ13 All these and a lot of times when I drive home late at night tired from either work or pleasure the autopilot would be very useful for saving me from a serious accident.

Tâm | 18. September 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

GDH | 18. September 2013

Adaptive CC and BLIS are awesome, all else bleh. Of course Tesla will probably charge $10K for those options.

Benz | 19. September 2013

I think you all should see this 4:22 minute video of the Mercedes Benz S500 Autonomous Drive. It was revealed at the IAA in Frankfurt about a week ago. The car did a real autonomous drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim (103 km) in July this year. The person who is sitting on the driver's seat did not have to do anything during the whole distance. I think it's just fantastic. Have a look for yourself.

Here is the link:

Brian H | 19. September 2013

Reminds me of Kornbluth, The Marching Morons. A 20th C salesman is cryogenically frozen, then revived in the far future by the desperate genius elite supporting a planetful of morons. On a drive to a meeting, he is driven by one of the latter, bragging about how speedy his car is. Eyeball guess is that the car never exceeds 30 mph, but the speedo says 70+, and loud wind and tire sounds complete the "illusion".

BTW, all jokes have the same punchline. "Wouldja buy it for a quarter?"

(He concocts a solution for his revivers: a successful scheme to induce mass migration to paradisaical estates on Venus, actually one-way rocket trips into the sun. Which his employers also send him on as a reward for a job all too well done.)

Just sayin'.

bb0tin | 19. September 2013

Fully autonomous cars will very quickly become common once several things happen:
1) The technology is sufficiently advanced to make it statistically safer to be in an automonous car than a car driven by a human
2) The regulation/liability issue are sorted
3) The public accepts them

1) We are remarkably close when you see what the DARPA challenge and Google car etc have already accomplished
2) Is a indeterminate but has already started
3) The public already trusts computers to drive planes, trains and boats - although they do not fully realise it

I believe the first mass market will be taxis. If a taxi company can run a taxi 24 hours a day without a driver, then they save the cost of 1-3 drivers. This means that an autonomous car can cost 100's of thousands of dollars more than a non-autonomous car and still be economic. When autonomous cars are shown to be statistically safer, then the public will use them. They shoudl alosm initially be cheaper fares for both economic and merketing reasons. An infrastructure can be put in place so that they turn up on time, every time, don't get lost, and can be pre-booked to go exactly where you want, with the route you want.

The public will want an autonomous car once they realise all the advantages beyond the obvious of not needing to drive eg:
You can be dropped off at the door of where you want to be, rather than having to park somewhere else and walk.
You can get the car to find the cheapest or free parking, and then come back to pick you up at the door.
When you go on a walk, you can have the car meet you at the endpoint, rather than having to go for loop walk, or do car shuffling to make sure a car is at the endpoint.
You can leave your car parked long-term at home rather in a public spot eg: rather than leave your telsa at the airport you tell it to go park at home and pick you up when you return.

bb0tin | 19. September 2013

Drat...late in the night...sorry human spellcheckers.

WhisperingCJ | 19. September 2013

I think a lot of what is promised depends on what Elon meant by "auto-pilot"
Early aeronautic auto-pilots could only handle the flight itself, taking off and landing were manual. These are now also handled by the auto-pilot to some extent, but it's still called the auto-pilot.

So I think that the first release will only include auto-pilot for motorways/freeways, etc (i.e. long straight-ish sections that only require minor navigation tweaks and obstacle avoidance.
(Let's just hope the GPS problems are resolved first though - I'd hate to see the actual car spinning around, lol)

Also, he's only just started recruiting for it
"Engineers interested in working on autonomous driving, pls email Team will report directly to me.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 18, 2013

As an aside, I just happen to know software developer whose name is Tony Stark.
I made sure he knew about the recruitment - it would be awesome seeing Tony Stark being hired by Iron Man :-D

Benz | 19. September 2013

Vehicles with a partly autonomous drive capability are likely to come soon. But totally autonomous drive is still a long way ahead (next decade?).

bb0tin | 19. September 2013

We already have totally autonomous cars which have driven 100's of thousands of miles of public roads. Check out what google has done, and the Darpa urban challange.

SUN 2 DRV | 19. September 2013

"Computer is a way much safer driver than human and that's the fact."

If all the cars in the local area have computers I might agree. But I mostly worry about the inevitable MIXTURE of both human and computer driven cars. The computers just won't be able to deal with the unpredictably of the humans.

bb0tin | 19. September 2013

Here is a short video from 2 1/2 years ago:

Tâm | 21. September 2013


Thanks for the link. It's old but I could easily relate to the speaker who lost his young friend in an automobile accident and therefore, self-driving car is his quest to make sure no one will ever suffer a loss like he did.


Thanks for the video of Mercedes S500 Intelligent Drive. They hide pretty well all the sensors and radar.

From the picture below, you can't hardly notice the raised rounded disc on top of its roof which is an answer to Google gigantic LIDAR.

However, it's planned for 2020.

On 09/18/2013, Elon shocked the stock market by announcing that his "Auto-pilot" feature date is 2016 which is 4 years ahead of most people could predict!

The stock price on 09/17/2013, the day before Tesla "auto-pilot" announcement was $166.23

The stock price on 09/19/2013, the day before Tesla "auto-pilot" announcement was $177.90, that's $11.67 or 7% jump.

Around the same time, Deutsche Bank stock analyst also recommended a "buy" and TSLA closed at $183.39 last Friday, 09/20/2013.

Fool contributor John Rosevear argues that it is not science fiction nor revolutionary, it's a basic requirement if you want to enter into the luxury-car market.

Tâm | 21. September 2013

Sorry, for missing the picture codes. Here's a small raised rounded disc on top of the roof of S500 Intelligent-Drive Mercedes-Benz:

And compare that to Google big LIDAR on the roof top: