"If, in writing some article that's negative, you effectively dissuade people from using autonomous vehicles, you're killing people," said Musk, CEO of Tesla as he criticized the media on Wednesday for covering driverless car crashes while ignoring the 1.2 million people who are killed in car accidents worldwide annually. This was quoted as he was persuading that his self-driving technology to be twice as safe as people driven cars and he is adamant that the public sees his opinion and vision. In May, an Ohio man died in an accident while he was using Autopilot - a partial self-driving technology that Tesla has been offering since last year. His Model S failed to spot a tractor-trailer crossing a divided highway, and while neither the car nor the driver braked, the Model S crashed into the side of the trailer. Federal investigators are still looking into the accident to see if Autopilot had a role in the crash.
While there are few studies to prove Musk right or wrong on this matter, there is a bit of data which favors his position that computer controlled vehicles are safer. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety determined from 2016 police data that forward collision warning alone reduced front-into rear crashes by 27 percent while automatic braking cut the rear crashes in half and reduced injures by almost 60 percent.
Tesla Motors announced this week that all of its cars are now equipped to be self-driving vehicles even though the technology to operate autonomous driving is not ready. Tesla will be charging USD $8000 for the "full self-driving capability" feature when it is released. The company also notes the release date will be dependent on regulatory approval. And in the fine print on a page describing options for new cars, Tesla Motors made it absolutely clear that it will ban owners from using their self-driving vehicles for ride services with exemption of their own network, proving they are planning to set up their own ride-sharing service. The disclaimer quotes "Using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride-hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year."
While ride-sharing/hailing is a vision of many autonomous vehicle makers and developers, some analysts are skeptical in Tesla's move into the market since there are well established players already such as Uber and Lyft. While autonomous vehicles are being tested in the market, it is also the first time Uber and Lyft have had to own, maintain and insure their vehicles since their prior business model relied heavily on the driver to do so. While Tesla's resources and technology available to them may be more advanced, the future is yet to be clear on which company will emerge victorious.
But being bold and aggressive is nothing new to Elon Musk and Tesla Motors. He already has a reputation of making outrageous claims and then proving to be following through albeit behind schedule such as SpaceX and trips to Mars. Musk pledged he'll produce a Tesla that can drive itself from Los Angeles to New York City, no human needed. With such an aggressive timeline, this pledge puts him years ahead of all the other players in the autonomous driving market. Ford is aiming for 2021, China's Baidu for 2019. Google hasn't given a hard date even though they have been working on this project for nine years and have a fleet of 60 self-driving cars which has covered more than two million miles mostly around cities. And GM has yet to also provide a hard date.