The topic of driverless cars has been a hot item of discussion almost since the new year started, with the United Kingdom and four cities in the United States testing out prototypeson domestic roadways and Delphi conducting a cross-country, data-collecting excursion. Last weekend, Tesla Motors' CEO, Elon Musk, stated that not only would the electric car manufacturer be releasing technology updates to their vehicles that informs drivers of the closest charging stations, but also that future vehicle software updates included the abilities of the cars to park and drive themselves on highways and major roads.
Tesla Motors manufactures two models that are both solely electric, meaning that all cars boast zero emissions and rely only on a rechargeable battery to fully operate and power the vehicle. The Model S (pictured) is supposed to receive a technology update over the next few days that informs the driver well in advance of how much battery power is left in addition to where the closest charging station is (thus decreasing or eliminating entirely what is commonly referred to as "range anxiety"); these updates are downloaded to the car's internal computer similar to how a smartphone downloads software updates.
The Tesla Model S requires a charging station be set up where you live, and all of Tesla's online pictures showcase the vehicle inside the garage of a house (which suggests that a Tesla owner must make at least an upper-middle class salary as these vehicles themselves are extremely pricey), plugged up, and charging from a port located where most cars' gasoline latch-doors are. From the charging station is also where the vehicle receives software updates-this automobile literally functions as a computer, smartphone, or tablet, in super-size form.
In addition to the heads-up range and charging station update, future updates are supposed to include the ability of the car to drive and park itself, as well as "come when it is called", driving itself without a driver at the wheel from a location to its owner. Tesla has yet to reveal the specific details of these updates or when these features are supposed to be available, but regardless, this automobile make may be one of the model car companies of the future for others to follow. So far, driverless cars are hypothesized to increase roadway efficiency and safety, and decrease traffic and car accidents.
Since Tesla vehicles do not require gasoline and are completely electric, they leave no carbon footprint, but they also only have a max mileage of 295 miles per full battery charge. This fact translates to very long and painful road trips, should you choose to take one. Yes, the car does come equipped with GPS that guides you only on routes that will include charging stations along the way, but this also means stopping to charge the car every 170 miles, which is the max amount of mileage that you can get out of the portable "supercharger" that must be plugged into whatever charging station you stop at.
Although we think that the Tesla models are undoubtedly "cool" and definitely environmentally friendly, these vehicles may inflict more stress on the owner about charging convenience to the point where the purchase of one becomes increasingly unattractive. Until the battery of these electric cars can with-hold more miles per full charge and/or less time to charge on-the-go, other driverless cars may be well worth the wait.