Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed he has been in talks with Google to bring driverless technology to its vehicles. According to Bloomberg, Musk sees autonomous driving becoming the next logical step in the evolution of cars, but believes Google's technology — which currently utilizes sensors over an optical system — is "too expensive," adding that Tesla is "not focused on autopilot right now [but] we will be in the future."
Admitting that Tesla has engaged in technical discussions with Google, Musk also told Bloomberg that Tesla will likely develop its own autopilot system, which could incorporate a more cost-effective camera-based alternative that uses software to detect and position a vehicle. However, he didn't rule out the possibility that Tesla could "do something jointly with Google" in the future.
"Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars."
Google has previously said that it expects to release its self-driving car technology in the next three to five years. Using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser technology, the company has already logged over 300,000 test miles on the road with its Toyota Prius hybrids, and has reportedly been in talks with other automobile manufacturers to get self-driving cars out of its labs and into consumers' hands. Google has admitted it still doesn't know what form its driverless technology will take when it is released, but even if it is road-worthy, it's likely to face a number of complex legal issues surrounding the use of autonomous vehicles on US roads.
Update: Elon Musk took to his Twitter account shortly after this post was published to push back on Bloomberg's report, saying that while Tesla was considering driverless tech for its cars, it isn't yet a "top priority," nor is any potential partnership with Google on that front. As Musk tweeted:
Creating an autopilot for cars at Tesla is an important, but not yet top priority. Still a few years from production.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2013
Tesla priority is electrification of cars, so priority is Model S, Model X, then mass market third gen vehicle & truck— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2013
Am a fan of Larry, Sergey & Google in general, but self-driving cars comments to Bloomberg were just off-the-cuff. No big announcement here— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2013