Mr. Musk made this announcement at the World AI Conference in Shanghai, China. He claims that a level five autonomous driving Tesla car will be available before the end of the year. He added that the company is close to reaching level five autonomy with just small problems.
A level zero autonomous cars have full human control. A level five autonomous car means that it can fully drive itself with human intervention. During his address to the conference, Mr. Musk said:
“I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level five autonomy complete this year. I think there are no fundamental challenges remaining for level five autonomy.”
If these claims are true, then Mr. Musk only took four years to realize his vision. Four years ago, Tesla started selling software that allows its cars to have some semblance of autonomous driving. The company offers this software in different packages and price points.
Despite the claim of level five autonomy, the software is expected to have the driver’s full attention. For one, the system will slow down if it does not detect the driver’s hand on the steering wheel. In the past, several autonomous car accidents using AutoPilot blamed the lack of driver attention.
The AutoPilot feature has been the subject of criticisms both from auto experts and safety regulators. Some say Mr. Musk is just using it as a marketing ploy. Safety regulators attribute this AutoPilot feature to dangerous driver behavior like sleeping on the wheel and leaving the driver’s seat.
Currently, Tesla offers autonomous driving software in packages. Most of these autonomous driving packages are at level two or level three. Car owners can choose to add this software to their cars at quite a hefty price.
Some tech and market experts are wondering how the level five rollout will be like. There are hints that the company might use a subscription-based rollout. This means that car owners will have to pay a regular fee to keep using autonomous driving software.
This is contrary to the current setup wherein car owners only need to pay a one-time payment. Whatever the rollout will be, Tesla is surely looking to a bright future once the software is available.
Image courtesy of Vitaliy Karimov/Shutterstock
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