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Tesla in Driverless Car Race

Within three years, Tesla Motors is planning to roll out a virtually driverless car that takes over 90% of driving—a time frame that blows other driverless car makers out of the water.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told reporters last week that he expected “we should be able to do 90% of miles driven within three years," but that fully autonomous cars would take longer to develop.

Tesla’s announcement was met with a flurry of skepticism, not least because other carmakers have a timeframe of 10 to 15 years to reach this level of automated driving.  

The caveats listed making this a thing of Hollywood rather than reality range from technological challenges to legal and insurance issues.

So the general consensus is that Tesla may be able to roll out a 90% driverless car in three years, but it won’t actually be able to hit the road then.

Related Article: Tesla Opens First European Model S Assembly Plant and Supercharger Network

The idea of semi-autonomous and self-driving cars also raises some significant liability questions that will have to be addressed. Autonomous cars will give drivers the right to claim that they are not liable for traffic incidents, but determining who is liable will be a bit tricky. Responsibility will somehow have to be shared by the driver and the maker of the technology and the car.

Recent survey shows that the customers are not welcoming the idea with open arms, according to the Sterling Anderson, the principal of Gimlet Systems.

"Surveys show that while many people are open to the idea of an autonomous vehicle driving them to work, far fewer are willing to let one drive their child to soccer practice," he said.

On other hand, such transport promises greater convenience and safety than the human-operated vehicles of today. It also has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of energy consumed in the transportation--the second most energy-intensive sector behind electric power in the US.

Related Article: GM Hopes New Battery Tech will Steal EV Market from Tesla

Germany's Daimler AG and Japan's Nissan have both said they hope to begin selling self-driving cars by the end of the decade.

Germany’s car maker already offers technology that allows for partly automated driving such as traffic jam assistance. On other side, Nissan announce a special deadline for fielding self-driving cars, set for 2020.

Google--one of the favorites in this race--has fitted out several cars with radar-like equipment that lets them navigate roads in California and Nevada.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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