Few technologies have analysts’ opinion divided quite like self-driving car technology is doing right now. On one hand, some analysts hail the technology as the next big thing while others such as Citron Research have been dismissing it as just another big hype a la 3D Printing technology. But whereas only time will tell whether or not self-driving cars will one day become mainstream on our roads, the fact of the matter is that plenty of top tech giants have already expressed their interest in the technology, with some such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Alphabet Inc-C (NASDAQ:GOOG) already having sunk huge amounts of money to develop their own versions of self-driving cars. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is one of the leading automakers with big self-driving car ambitions. Tesla already builds autopilot capabilities into Model S, and plans to do the same with Model X.
In October 2014, Tesla started equipping Model S with hardware such as 12 long-range ultrasonic cameras designed to sense objects within 16 feet of the car in all directions at all driving speeds; a forward-looking camera; and high-precision digitally controlled electric assist braking system. A Model S that is fitted with Tesla Version 7.0 software can take over driving functions from the driver in special circumstances such as highway driving, allow the vehicle to steer within a lane, change lanes with a simple turn signal, avoid collisions from the front and sides, scan for parking space and alert the driver when space is available, parallel park on the driver’s command, and manage the vehicle’s speed by using active, traffic-aware cruise control.
It’s a pretty impressive package for a first iteration solution. Tesla says that its autopilot solution was fully-developed in-house using the most advanced component technologies from Mobileye (NYSE:MBLY). Drivers who have tried out Tesla’s autopilot feature have reported being impressed by how well it performs.