Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric car maker will have achieved fully autonomous self-driving technology by the end of 2019, though regulatory hurdles could prevent a mass-market rollout in the near future.
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The California-based company has already implemented a limited version called “Autopilot,” a platform that handles basic functions such as acceleration and braking, but requires active human oversight. Musk said an expanded version, which can operate without human oversight, is nearly complete.
“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,” Musk said during an appearance on the ARK Invest podcast, hosted by the eponymous firm, which invests in Tesla. “I would say I am certain of that, that is not a question mark.”
Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature has faced scrutiny from federal safety officials after it was linked to a fatal accident in Mountain View, California last year. The company responded by tweaking the platform to frequently remind drivers to place their hands on the steering wheel while using “Autopilot.”
Musk has repeatedly teased a more sophisticated autonomous platform for Tesla vehicles, noting last October that the company was working on a “slightly smarter version” of its “Autopark” feature.
Musk said the improved autonomous driving technology would be subject to a lengthy approval process by U.S. regulators before it will reach Tesla drivers. He also noted that the technology may have some early hiccups.
“People sometimes will extrapolate that to mean [that] now it works with 100 percent certainty, requiring no observation, perfectly. That is not the case,” he said.