After Uber poached 40 researchers and scientists from Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Center earlier this year, there was little doubt left that the somewhat infamous ride-sharing company was dead serious about autonomous driving. Meanwhile, Tesla Motors, led by the iconic and future-thinking Elon Musk, hasn’t been shy about its own feelings regarding autonomous driving.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last year, Musk boldly predicted that the technology required to make autonomous driving a reality will be ready for prime time by 2020. What’s more, Musk said that autonomous cars will be 10 times safer than cars with traditional drivers. And hardly a company to sit idly by on the sidelines, Musk added that “Tesla is going to do quite a bit of development itself.”
If we put two and two together here, it’s readily apparent that Uber and Tesla are potentially on track to strike up some sort of partnership sometime down the line, a sentiment reportedly emphasized by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick not too long ago.
In a report originally posted on ChargedEvs, Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson claims that Kalanick told him that “in 2020, if Tesla’s cars are autonomous, he’d want to buy all of them.” With Tesla reportedly aiming to manufacture 500,000 cars in 2020, well, let’s just say that Tesla would have a padded bank account to say the least.
Was Kalanick’s statement hyperbolic? Most likely. But let’s not forget that Kalanick was able to turn Uber into the success story it is today by being a bold leader more than willing to make seemingly crazy bets even in the face of overwhelming odds.
Assuming autonomous driving becomes feasible by 2020, it of course remains to be seen if the public at large will take to it. Additionally, there are a few technical and regulatory hurdles that still need to be conquered before we find ourselves living in such a futuristic society.