Car Accident Lawyers Concerned About the Safety of Self-Driving Vehicles
With Elon Musk at the helm, what used to be a dream of unmanned driving is now becoming a reality. Tesla has recently announced an upgrade, dubbed Hardware 2, that allows Tesla car owners to drive and park with their hands off the wheel. It is only a matter of time before legislations approves the use of 100% hands-free driving cars.
He announced that he plans to be in the car when the test happens next year to prove the car’s reliability and safety.
What Tesla Is Working On
The company expects the software to be ready in 2017 and they plan to launch the upgrade over the air in segments. This progressive release model will allow them to closely monitor the software’s performance and hammer out any kinks as they pop up. This is the same approach the company used when it launched its auto-pilot and auto-parking features earlier this year.
Today, a true self-driving car is not yet feasible. It still needs a driver to guide it. Currently, Tesla is adding cameras to their cars to expand the software’s view to a 360 degree angle. This should allow the software to comprehensively analyze the situation in a split-second and make a decision that will be safe for both the driver and surrounding motorists.
In addition, Tesla is bent on developing computers that can process information 40 times faster than the average software installed in current Tesla cars. This speed should be able to analyze all information relayed to it by the cameras near instantaneously. This processor will also allow you to call your car to you, unmanned, by simply tapping an app on your phone.
What Critics Say
Car accident lawyers, legislators, and industry critics are concerned about many things. First, they worry about the reliability of the software. It is hard to imagine that a robot can replace human intelligence, flexibility, and driving experience. They also worry that drivers and passengers alike could become complacent and that this complacency could contribute to accidents.
There’s another reason for worry. Two crashes involving auto-pilot vehicles were reported recently – one in Florida and one in Singapore.
In Florida, the driver of a Tesla Model S crashed and died while the auto-pilot software was engaged. The biggest concern about this incident is that neither the driver nor the software applied the brakes, and hit a trailer truck while running at 65 miles per hour. Apparently, the driver may have misused the auto-pilot as it was designed to run for only three minutes. The expectation as of today is that Tesla cars are not yet fully auto-pilot and need human intervention at a moment’s notice.
Car accident lawyers and other critics also say that consumers who do not diligently update the car’s software can get themselves into bad situations, or that a malfunction and/or hacking can lead to accidents.
What Tesla Is Planning
The future of Tesla looks bright. Elon Musk revealed a master plan that shows where Tesla is headed. Today, as Tesla works on a fully autonomous car, it has also embarked on making freight trucks which it calls Tesla Semi, which will also be unveiled in 2017.
Elon Musk also said the company is working on using the self-driving technology to improve public safety. The software is currently being applied to buses. Elon’s vision is to use safe self-driving buses to serve the public.
The company is also planning to compete with ride-sharing apps like UBER and Lyft. With the app, you can turn your car into a self-driving taxi that will earn money while you are not using it.
Perhaps another thing of great value that the company is building is its own solar power system. One of the most expensive things in an electric car is its battery. If a Tesla car can compete toe-to-toe with gas-guzzling sport cars, can you just imagine the amount of energy it needs? You may be able to save on gas but not on electric power.
But what if future Tesla vehicle models came equipped with solar power panels to harness the sun’s energy? The impact on the auto industry would be enormous.
Finally, Elon Musk has partnered with companies like Panasonic to build what is called Gigafactory. It is a solar power plant the size of 100 football fields that will generate 35 GWh of power per year. Musk expects the construction to be completed in as early as two years.
In a nutshell, Elon Musk’s Masterplan 2.0 can be summarized in four points:
- Expand the energy storage business and create an energy generation business
- Make more car types available to the public
- Improve the safety of auto-pilot cars
- Launch a ride-sharing app for Tesla car owners to make them money
All in all, Elon Musk is looking forward to a future where everybody is a winner: decreased carbon footprint, safer cars, and money-generating cars. Car accident lawyers everywhere are anticipating what will happen next.
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