Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) will add self-driving features to the Model S as part of a software update this Summer, but you won’t be able to get your Model S to drive itself – yet. For now, small features that inch you a bit closer to self-driving are all you can expect. There is a Model S that can drive itself out there, however, and it’s driving around the Bosch research lab. You can see it for yourself in the video below.
Engineers at the research unit of the German firm took apart a stock Model S and added their own bits and pieces to change its operation. The result is an amazing, self-driving Tesla Motors marvel. The video below shows the Bosch prototype working in all its glory, and demonstrates the future of the self-driving car.
Tesla Motors self-driving Model S
The video above was uploaded to Youtube by Bosch Mobility Solutions. It shows a driver turning on the self-driving functions of the concept Tesla Motors Model S, sitting back, and letting the car drive itself through traffic.
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The actual Bosch prototype isn’t as pretty as the above Model S, but it is working. The car uses LiDAR sensors, like to those used in the Google self-driving car, along with special cameras and a powerful computer.
Here’s a limited video of that car working at the racetrack in Boxberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany from Stuff:
Tearing apart the Tesla Motors Model S
According to Stuff, in order to get the self-driving features into the car, Bosch had to tear the entire thing down and rebuild it with new parts.
They added 50 new components, including a “front stereo video camera to watch the road markings and identify obstacles, six (non-Bosch) LiDAR laser scanners for 360º coverage around the car, two long-range (200m) and four mid-range (120m) radar sensors facing forwards and backwards, inertial sensors,” and much much more.
The project took “1400 human-hours, 1300 metres of cable” according to the report. It cost about €200,000, neglecting the labor costs.
Goldman Sachs looks for Bosch to drive itself
Goldman Sachs, in a recent report on the state of the car market in the year 2025, addressed the Bosch tests. The firm said that Bosch could be expected to get autonomous highway driving to the public in the year 2020. It won’t be the first on the road according to the report, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) will take that honor, but it will be in the first clutch of self-driving trail blazers.
Goldman Sachs and Barclay’s have said that Tesla Motors may have problems getting into the mass market. Both think that firms like Google and Nissan will reach the mass market self-driving space before the Palo Alto, California EV maker.
The question is where Bosch is going to put all of the mass of data they’ve collected on the self-driving world. A partnership with another firm, such as Fiat Chrysler, could be in the works. That firm’s CEO Serio Marchionne is looking for consolidation in the auto world to reduce tech costs.
On the other hand, Bosch could simply license its tech to multiple car makers. There’s no reason to think that every single market leader is ready to put their own self-driving car on the road. Bosch may have a solution for them that won’t take years to develop.
Bosch could, if it was inclined, offer the self-driving upgrade to current Tesla Motors Model S drivers. The $300,000-$500,000 upgrade could be a great toy for the rich and famous right now, and could net Bosch some quick cash from the program.