Semi-Autonomous Cars Compared! Tesla Model S vs. BMW 750i, Infiniti Q50S, and Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

Semi-Autonomous Cars Compared! Tesla Model S vs. BMW 750i, Infiniti Q50S, and Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

Autonomous driving—what the high-minded call artificial intelligence and what we call real brainlessness—may not be as vile as we originally feared. One DeLorean DMC-12 directed by a Stanford University engineering crew can perform perfect opposite-lock, tire-cooking, hands-off donuts at will for as long as the rubber lasts. Lead professor Chris Gerdes explained the rationale underlying this class project, timed to coincide with the fictional arrival on October 21, 2015, of the time-traveling Back to the Future DeLorean: “When we no longer have a human driver in the loop, we think that the automated vehicle should be able to harness the full range of vehicle operating capabilities to avoid collisions, even if this means going sideways a bit to stay on the road.” In other words, loading $60,000 worth of navigation gear, two powerful electric motors, and shrewd software into a 30-year-old sports car may have just fried Google’s autonomous eggs.

While on-demand drifting will likely remain in your dreams for the time being, cars programmed to perform other feats are now commonplace. Anti-lock brakes and stability control have been mandatory for years. Lots of cars sound an alarm, shake the seat, and/or nudge the steering wheel when you leave your lane without ­signaling. Adaptive cruise control that automatically maintains a safe distance from the car ahead is also widely available. Ten manufacturers recently committed to making automatic emergency braking standard across their entire lineups.

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