The concept of self-driving cars, despite being years away from being commercialized on a large scale, has nevertheless enthused a large number of people around the globe and has thus encouraged a number of firms with spare cash to invest actively in new technologies. Even though Tesla has zoomed ahead with its Model S car which features an Autopilot mode, companies like Google, Nissan, and Ford are catching up. In fact, LeEco, a Chinese company well-known for offering low cost smartphones and a content streaming service in China, has also launched a new LeSEE concept car and hopes to surpass Tesla in the near future in terms of automated self-driving technologies.
Among the new entrants in the field, the most talked about has been the Google Car project. Unlike Tesla, Google is working on an automated concept which completely negates the human factor and gives the car's software and hardware systems complete control over its functioning. The company hopes to commercialize the car by 2019 at the earliest and believes that it will be the safest automated car in the future. According to Sebastian Thrun, the artificial intelligence researcher for the Google self-driving car project, "Safety has been paramount for the Google self-driving car team from the very beginning. We wanted it to be significantly safer to the point where there would be no accidents ever." Tesla's Autopilot feature, however, received a major jolt recently when one of its Model S test cars met with a major accident. The car's computers failed to detect a white trolley under the bright sun and failed to slow it down, thus causing the death of famous test driver Joshua Brown.
Toyota, the world's largest car-maker, is not a major fan of self-driving cars but the company is working on an automated technology which will take over once it is clear that a driver has made an error or is not in control of his/her car. While Tesla's Autopilot technology is based on a different concept, Tesla has also made it clear that the technology has been designed to assist drivers and not the other way around, and drivers must remain cautious all the time when their cars are being driven by the system. Back in January, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke about modifying the company's 'summon' technology to make it work during long distances. While you can use the summon feature to instruct your car to leave its parking space and come to your location, in the future, the goal is to be able to 'summon' your car even if you are in New York and your car is parked somewhere in Los Angeles. Given that Tesla and other technology companies are slowly building new technologies to perfect their respective automated and self-driving cars, the true test of such technologies will be, apart from making their cars completely self-reliant, in ensuring zero accidents in the future as well.