If you’d have asked me 10 years ago who I thought would be manufacturing the world’s first fully electric, competitively priced saloon car, I certainly wouldn’t have put my money on Palo Alto start-up, Tesla. In little under a decade, Tesla have proved doubters wrong and have been branded in that time as ‘the world’s most innovative car manufacturer’.

Tesla S

As fuel prices rise, car manufacturers are frequently turning their attention to battery powered cars. This timeline from Process Industry Forum highlights all of the manufacturers who’ve tried and succeeded at getting battery powered cars into production. Tesla are currently the only company who’ve managed to manufacture a battery powered car that can compete with the petrol/ diesel fuelled equivalents.

So, why am I speaking of Tesla in such a positive manner? Well, because their CEO and founder last week stated that they were working on 90% autonomous vehicles within the next 3 years and Elon is someone who likes to turn his ideas into a reality. Here’s what he had to say to the Financial Times:

“We should be able to do 90% of miles driven within three years,” [Musk] said. Mr Musk would not reveal further details of Tesla’s autonomy project, but said it was “internal development” rather than technology being supplied by another company. “It’s not speculation,” he said.

Musk goes on to state that at this moment in time, he doesn’t think fully autonomous vehicles are feasible just yet. He points out that the final 10% of developing an autonomous vehicle is just as hard, if not harder than the first 90%.

Furthermore, Tesla has since posted a job listing recruiting an ‘Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Control Engineer’, proving that they are serious about getting this project on the public roads.

Google are also in the race to develop a fully autonomous vehicle, so it will be interesting to see who starts rolling cars off the production line first. It is known that the US government are currently sceptical about autonomous technology and are yet to grant car manufacturers permission to test their cars on public roads. However, the Japanese government has recently granted Nissan permission to test a ‘Leaf’ on their public roads.

How do you feel about fully autonomous vehicles? How would insurance companies handle a road traffic accident involving an autonomous vehicle?