Our tech guy Colin Moors looks at the progress of self-driving Tesla cars.
Anyone with a keen eye for a motor can surely not have missed the rise and rise of the Tesla. In fact, as you’re clearly a reader of taste and class, you’ll have seen my review of the Model S in this very magazine in January of last year.
As I predicted then, the Tesla cars company is pushing ahead with its plans to scale back on the $160,000 price tag and bring driverless electric cars to all of us, without dialling back on the quality of the build, the range or any of the gadgets and features people have come to expect from the world’s foremost electric vehicle maker. If they aren’t careful, they may start to make some money soon. The Model 3, as it’s snappily titled, is aimed at a market that can spend just over €30,000 on a new car, so hardly a king’s ransom for most in that market. With five seats, driverless hardware and software and a range of around 350 km, it’s really setting the bar high for anyone else trying to make a mark in the electric vehicle market – which means just about every major manufacturer.
Once Tesla had proved that the electric car was not just something for weirdos and the knit-your-own-beansprouts brigade, others were quick to pick up the slack, offering a multitude of features from climate control, to auto-park to hybrid petrol/electric cars. With all this technology, there are as many questions being asked as answered. The biggest question of all has to be the one of safety and culpability. Yes, you could effectively enjoy reading the paper as your car drives you to work or take that important phone call as it parks for you – but what about if things go wrong?
As you would expect, every one of these features is tested and re-tested to ensure safety. Tesla cars has an impeccable record in this department but their cars are currently a very tiny dot-percentage of the global market. What happens if cars are able to communicate, as is being mooted currently? What if the difference is apples and oranges, or in computer terms, Apple and PC? If the communication breaks down, so do you. There’s a strong possibility that greater investment in technology will provide a safer ‘driving’ experience and cut the number of casualties or fatalities on the road. There have even been reports that the rise of the self-driving car will have a significant effect on the availability of donor organs. As the vast majority of such donors are road traffic victims, this new safety could end up killing as many as it saves, on this basis alone.