The world has been talking about self-driving cars for a long time; but, consumers have not yet got hold of any such vehicle. However, things will change pretty soon as Elon Musk, the CEO of electric car maker Tesla, has announced that his company is all set to unveil an autonomous driving technology by summer 2015.
According to Musk, Tesla will be coming up with a software update that will turn its popular Model S sedans into self-driven cars. He said that with this software update, one would be able to keep the Model S car in a hands-free mode at least for a part of the time the car is on the road. The company is referring to this hands-free mode as “autopilot”.
This announcement by Musk might have made Tesla fans happy, but many experts are still not sure whether autonomous driving can be called legal.
Lark Brauer, a Kelly Blue Book analyst, said that there must be a reason that has stopped other automakers from launching self-driven cars. He added that while it’s true that some states have already passed laws that legalize autonomous vehicles, it has to be kept in mind that those laws were created only to allow testing of self-driving cars and not for making them available to consumers.
Brauer added that automakers are not showing significant interest in using self-driving technology in their cars not only because of philosophical factors, but also for this legal situation.
Tesla spokesperson Alexis Georgeson, however, had an explanation ready. She said that Tesla is not doing anything that the law doesn’t allow them to; according to her, the steps taken by the company has no conflict with the current regulations.
Georgeson explained that the technology Tesla is looking to introduce is meant to be used only by an alert driver. She said that the automaker is looking to add this autopilot feature in its Model S sedans to give drivers a break from the tedious task of continuously operating the steering wheel, which in turn will allow them to focus more.
Vehicle manufacturers like Honda, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz already has cars that can drive themselves when on highways. However, none of those cars allows actual autonomous driving; drivers must have their hands on the steering wheel for those cars to move.