Tesla’s Elon musk has suggested that a new public transport system is under development at the EV brand.
Although Musk was cautious about what he was revealing, and avoided naming or identifying the project itself, the public transport nature of the project was alluded to.
Musk said: “We have an idea for something that is not exactly a bus, but would solve the density problem for inner city situations. I think we actually need to rethink the whole concept of public transport and create something that people are actually going to like a lot more.”
He clarified that he was not talking about the ‘Hyperloop’ project, and continued: “I very much agree with solving the high-density urban transport problem, and I think there’s a new type of car or vehicle that would be great for that, and would take people to their final destination – not just a bus stop.”
When Norway’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, asked where autonomous vehicles fit into the scheme, Musk replied: “Autonomous vehicles are key.”
Solvik-Olsen also addressed a key area of autonomous vehicle development: public trust. Musk said: “I think people will trust it surprisingly quickly. The feedback we’ve got from our autonomous software in Teslas today has been extremely positive.”
Musk also spoke of his need for caution, saying: “I’ll make an offhand comment in a group like this, and it’ll be a small page three article in a regional newspaper, then the international press will seize on that, and turn it into a big headline.”
The impact and adoption of autonomous motoring on public transportation systems have long been the cause of debate. Musk’s proposal – which is likely to be an autonomous, electric car equivalent to on-demand transport app Uber – looks to introduce autonomy to public transport on a wide scale.
Musk’s aim to solve the high-density urban transport problem, however, which would involve higher numbers of passengers per vehicle, leaves the type of vehicle that would be used for the project open to interpretation, given the introduction of the topic through the discussion of buses, which have a far higher transport density than even a fully-laden, seven-seat Tesla Model X.