While the automotive engineering related community debating about the timing of full-fledged availability of autonomous self driving cars, there came a surprise announcement from world's no.1 EV car maker Tesla Motors. In this year of 2015, Tesla S model electric cars will be over-the-air updated with the latest software version which supports autonomous driving feature in cars. The hardware supporting self driving features already installed in new S Model. The new Model S is fitted with a radar in the front, and ultrasonic sensors placed all around the car to sense objects at 16 feet from the car, a forward-looking camera, and a digitally controlled electric assist braking system.
Well, the self driving car tech is ready to roll, but the regulators/transportation authorities are not ready with the law/regulations for using electic cars in public. Now you can not raid an autonomous car in public places except for test by companies such as Google and automotive companies.
After uploading the new software over-the-air, S model electric car supports a feature where driver can send a message to the car, for the car to drive itself from the parking lot to the place where the passenger is waiting. And the driver can put S model car into autonomous mode of driving.
To process the data from radar, imaging and other sensors, Tesla used Nvidia's Tegra graphics processor chips in its autonomous driving systems. Tesla's CEO Elon Musk said “What NVIDIA is doing with Tegra is really interesting and really important for self-driving in the future”. Basically kind of using supercomputer architecture for fast processing of data.
Tesla S model eliminated most of the issues related to electric car use such as distance it can travel in single charge, charging time, safety and also overall performance including connectivity.
Here's a reproduction of the part of the article we have written on model S sometime in 2013.
Finally an electric car worthier than fossil fuel car: In last few years, however hard the electric car designers try to design and sell best cars, they lack on two important tasks, which are the distance electric vehicle can travel in a single charge and the charging time. Anything beyond 200 km range was becoming challenging and the charging time anything less than 1.5 hours was also tough to design. But now you have a beautiful luxury sedan electric car from Tesla motors, the Model S, which can travel 480 KMs in a single charge and in 20 minutes the car can be recharged to travel another 200+ KMs. A range beyond this is not required for most of the users. It is a pretty cool performance for an electric car to compete with internal combustion engine cars. The technology behind this achievement is use of advanced lithium based and other fast charging high-density batteries.
While electric cars having able to come out of these drawbacks, the other inherent advantages of electric cars seduce car buyers to go for electric. The Tesla's Model S has received high-ranking for safety by safety testing organisations in the world. Due to the placement of batteries on the bottom floor of the chassis, the electric cars offer excellent centre of gravity. At higher speeds electric cars hold onto the road far better than a petrol/diesel cars while negotiating curves. These clutch-free vehicles is easy to drive. And also due to electric control of motion, making electric cars self driving is lot easier.
Tesla motors S model, though bit expensive is an excellent car which can compete with any high-end internal combustion engine powered cars. After successful launch in US, Tesla has begun the first European deliveries of Model S this August in Norway, followed by Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
Tesla is providing fast charging stations called Superchargers using advanced charging technology at selected places such as restaurants and shops on highways. These charging stations capable of charging Model S 20x faster than most common charging stations. Superchargers provide half a charge in about 20 minutes, delivering up to 120 kW DC (Direct Current) power directly to the Model S battery.
Tesla’s first network of European Supercharging stations opened in Norway at the end of August. Tesla planned to provide the supercharging stations in most of the Europe in the coming months
JB Straubel, Chief Technical Officer at Tesla said road trippers can stop for a quick meal while their Model S charges for free.
There is a disappointment for Indians who are interested in Tesla cars. This car is still not yet launched in India, though it is globally launched in many places around the world including China. Wonder what is that stopping Tesla/Elon Musk from launching this beautiful car in India.