Electric-car manufacturer Tesla plans to put a semi-autonomous car on sale in three years' time, Reuters reports. The company wants its electric cars to offer an autopilot mode that could reportedly take over from the driver in about 90 percent of driving situations.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted in May that his company was interested in developing semi-autonomous cars. At the time, Musk said that Tesla might work with Internet giant Google, which has already deployed a fleet of self-driving cars, to develop the technology. Musk hedged his comments, however, by noting that the company could pursue autonomous cars without Google's input, and would first focus on accelerating the roll-out of its all-electric cars.
Now Tesla appears to have solidified its plans, as Bloomberg reports that CEO Musk is searching for engineers to help create self-driving systems. On Twitter, Musk announced that Tesla is recruiting a team to "develop a practical autopilot system for [the] Model S" and that such systems would use "tiny cameras" and radar sensors to measure the car's surroundings.
Most major automakers are working to develop semi-autonomous cars, although Tesla appears to have the most ambitious schedule so far, with plans to launch the cars by 2016. Nissan recently announced it will sell a series-production self-driving car by 2020, a timeline also shared by Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes, for its part, already offers some semi-autonomous technologies in the new S-Class luxury sedan, allowing the car to steer itself in traffic jams; Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti has a feature that allows the Q50 sedan to steer itself for brief periods of time.
A Tesla representative confirmed that the company is investigating autonomous cars and that Tesla is looking for engineers, but didn't offer any more comment.