Elon Musk in talks with Google to bring driverless tech to Tesla cars

Elon Musk in talks with Google to bring driverless tech to Tesla cars

Believing it could be the next step in the evolution of cars, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed he has been in talks with Google to bring driverless technology to its vehicles. According to Bloomberg, Musk believes autonomous driving is the next logical step in the evolution of cars, but believes Google's technology — which currently utilizes sensors over an optical system — is "too expensive," and may hamper Tesla's plans to implement Google's system.

Admitting that Tesla has engaged in technical discussions with Google, Musk also told Bloomberg that Tesla will likely develop its own autopilot system, which could incorporate a more cost-effective camera-based alternative that uses software to detect and position a vehicle. However, he didn't rule out the possibility that Tesla could "do something jointly with Google" in the future.


Google has previously said that it expects to release its self-driving car technology in the next three to five years. Using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser technology, the company has already logged over 300,000 test miles on the road with its Toyota Prius hybrids, and has reportedly been in talks with other automobile manufacturers to get self-driving cars out of its labs and into consumers' hands. Google has admitted it still doesn't know what form its driverless technology will take when it is released, but even if it is road-worthy, it's likely to face a number of complex legal issues surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles on US roads.

GeekEV | 7 May 2013

As with batteries and battery prices, mass adoption of a technology (like Google's) would drive prices down. Tesla's got a good history so far of "going first"...

FLsportscarenth... | 7 May 2013

Interesting possibilities to save lives if you are too tired, drunk or high (only in WA or CO of course) to get home...

If the system works well taxi fares could drop and service could improve by getting rid of the grungy or scary human operators...

Of course with the Model S, I would never use the thing, driving yourself is muck more fun!

oswin | 7 May 2013

just saw the self driving car video on youtube
and I'm sold
it's better than having 90 years old driving around and I'm sure would like a self driving tesla to drive me around when I'm older =)

Brian H | 7 May 2013

What kind of fun is "muck" fun? Please give details. ;)

dstiavnicky | 8 May 2013

I can't see it. Tesla just built one of the most responsive "fun to drive" cars in the world. I can't see even using cruise control on mine!

TeslaRocks | 8 May 2013

Nice video, but I don't see how the market is ready if there is significant cost or risk involved. By "risk" I mean damage to brand and public perception when there is an accident with auto-pilot. You can bet people and the media will focus on the one accident even if the previous 1 billion car trips were flawless, because it is new. Here's a part of what I just finished posting in another thread.

I think auto-pilot is a fun gadget to take baby steps towards, but I don't see how it could live to all the hype, especially considering all the risks and costs versus questionable costumer demand for the feature (in my view at least). It should start as an expensive option in premium vehicles, for the few who really value it. I doubt the average driver would want to pay for that, whether as an option or as part of the base price. After all, if you want to go without having to drive, for example to read, there's the bus for that. Most people who buy a Tesla are car enthusiasts, I imagine, and therefore like to drive. Of course Tesla should not ignore autopilot and should keep somewhat ahead of the technology, so to not be left out when it will be ready for the mass market where real demand could be found among the elderly, those unable to drive because of handicaps, those who just hate driving or never bothered to get their license (although this crowd usually can't afford much so they likely wouldn't be part of the early adopters), and even taxi companies who wish to create an automated fleet. It is the future, but I don't think we are quite there yet... a human might walk on Mars before auto-pilot becomes a big deal.

TeslaRocks | 8 May 2013

Another way to say this is that, for those who are able, the trend has been towards pumping your own gas, using self check-out at the store, and doing your own banking online. I think the average man will choose to do something themselves if it takes are much time, isn't very difficult, and saves a few pennies. Beyond saving pennies, doing something yourself provides a feeling of accomplishment and independence that can be a little elusive these days. As for when the able driver who is too tired to drive, auto-pilot while the driver sleeps will become an attractive option only after the technology has gained the trust of the public. That will take a lot of successful trips and probability of accident way below the "freak accident" ratio, so it is a sort of catch-22. As for "driving through" on autopilot and sleeping in the car as an interesting alternative to getting a hotel room, that will make sense only when cars have much more range or when auto-pilot can take a Tesla to a supercharger and charge it automatically. Auto-pilot therefore remains a niche market for the next decade at least. I guess I am saying that Tesla should proceed very cautiously and not bet the farm on this technology.

olanmills | 8 May 2013

As you can see in the updated Verge article, Elon tweeted that there basically aren't any definitive plans right now.

I do think Tesla would be an ideal company to release a car like this in the future though.

FLsportscarenth... | 8 May 2013


Muck fun indeed is driving a car made by Elon Mush!

Mr Typo...

ChristianG | 9 May 2013

Tesla is not not that strong on the Software department yet. So I don't think they outrun Google on the Auto Pilot.