Tesla has missed key deadlines in the past, but that hasn’t stopped CEO Elon Musk from setting ambitious timelines for the autonomous capabilities of its cars. Musk says that its full self-driving technology will be complete by the end of this year.
“I think we will be ‘feature-complete’ on full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention this year,” Musk said in an interview with ARK Invest and as reported by Wired. “I am certain of that. That is not a question mark.”
That doesn’t mean it will work 100 percent perfectly and require no observation, Musk says. So drivers will still need to monitor the technology. Eventually, it will be safe for occupants to fall asleep and wake up at their destination while the Tesla drives. Musk estimates this will happen around the end of 2020, although it could take regulators longer to permit such activity.
The company claims all of Tesla’s new vehicles have featured the necessary hardware for full autonomous driving since late 2016, but the implementation of the feature remains elusive. Tesla had offered a Full Self-Driving option for $3,000 before the feature quietly disappeared off the company’s website before being activated. Now, Tesla’s new Autopilot AI computer is about to enter production, and those who originally purchased the self-driving option will get that for free. Musk says it’s a “2,000 percent” improvement over Tesla’s current tech. Late last year, Tesla introduced Navigate for Autopilot, which can guide a car from on-ramp to off-ramp.
GM says it will roll out the fully autonomous Cruise AV for ride-hailing fleets this year. Ford has a similar goal for 2021. Waymo launched a commercial self-driving service, but it is not available to the general public and is limited to the Phoenix area for now.