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Published on May 10th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla’s Elon Musk Discusses “Autopilot” Possibility, Possible Partnership With Google

May 10th, 2013 by  

Two of the hottest topics in the green car arena are self-driving cars and Tesla. Well, Tesla is simply an EV company, but it’s one with such an enthusiastic following and so many big announcements that I think we can say it is one of the hottest “topics” in this arena.

So, hey, why not get a story going about self-driving cars from Tesla?

In an interview with Bloomberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla has actually had “some technical discussions with Google” regarding self-driving cars.

Musk considers self-driving (or, as he prefers it, “autopilot”) technology to be a logical next step in the evolution of cars.

“I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” Musk said. “Self-driving sounds like it’s going to do something you don’t want it to do. Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”

Something of which I don’t think I was aware is that Google’s cofounders were investors in Tesla leading up to its IPO. Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s Google has been testing self-driving technology for awhile now. But Musk has at least one critique of the technology it’s been using.

“The problem with Google’s current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive,” Musk said. “It’s better to have an optical system, basically cameras with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.”

In the end, no one is sure if Tesla and Google will partner on self-driving/autopilot technology or go it alone.

“I think Tesla will most likely develop its own autopilot system for the car, as I think it should be camera-based, not Lidar-based,” Musk said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “However, it is also possible that we do something jointly with Google.”

We’ll see. For now, here are a couple pictures of self-driving vehicles from Google that I snapped in 2012 (videos at that link as well):

google automatic driving car

Picture of Google self-driving car in Palo Alto. Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

google self-driving lexus

Google’s brand new self-driving car. Photo Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica



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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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