Tesla expects its driverless car technology to be fully ready before the end of 2019.
This was revealed by the electric carmaker’s co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk, in a podcast with ARK Invest.
I think we will be feature complete — full self-driving — this year. Meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up and take you all the way to your destination without an intervention, this year. I would say I am of certain of that. That is not a question mark.
Musk, however, cautioned that it will take longer for self-driving car technology to be completely safe and independent of humans:
My guess as to when we would think it is safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination? Probably towards the end of next year. That is when I think it would be safe enough for that.
Musk also stated that regulators will determine when driverless cars are allowed on roads on a mass scale. But the electric carmaker CEO could Musk could not offer a guess on when this is likely to happen.
Regarding Tesla’s autonomous car tech known as Autopilot, Musk revealed he was directly in charge of its development. This is likely to be interpreted as a reflection of the importance the firm attaches to the technology.
Currently, it costs $5,000 for customers to unlock Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot feature on their cars. At the moment, the feature is basic and only capable of tasks such as making lane changes and taking exits. Tesla claims Autopilot improves safety but the tech has allegedly also been associated with several high-profile accidents.
In the podcast, the electric carmaker CEO stated that Tesla was ahead of its rivals with regards to data collected and necessary for deep learning. Compared to rivals such as Google’s Waymo, Musk said Tesla “must have maybe a hundred times more than anyone else”.
While this is not the first time that Musk is making a bold prediction, the question is whether it will turn out to be another of Tesla’s missed deadlines. This has happened before even with autonomous car technology. In early 2017 for instance, Musk stated that a software feature required to make Tesla cars built after October 2016 fully self-driving would be released by mid that year. That failed to materialize.
It has been worse for Tesla with regards to production targets. The electric carmaker’s SUV, Model X was supposed to have been delivered in 2013. However, it didn’t appear until late 2015, more than two years past the deadline.
Most famously Tesla severally missed producing 5,000 Model 3s per week. The electric carmaker eventually hit that target mid last year leading to record production numbers for the company in 2018.
But Tesla is yet to make good on one promise – building a $35,000 Model 3. The cheapest one still costs more than $40,000.