Tesla Likely To Launch Full Self-Drive ‘This Year’, Says Elon Musk

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Not again. Tesla boss Elon Musk touts arrival of its full self-drive technology this year, despite many missed predictions

Elon Musk has once again predicted the launch of Tesla’s full self-drive technology this year, despite years of mistakenly touting its imminent arrival.

During a conference call on Wednesday, Musk said that Tesla likely will launch its full self-drive technology this year and generate significant profits that offset some of the margin pressure it is facing due to aggressive price cuts.

That prediction comes despite Musk and Tesla being hit last month with a fresh lawsuit, filed by disgruntled Tesla shareholders, who alleged they were defrauded with false claims of the self-driving capabilities of Tesla vehicles.

Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta

A week prior to that lawsuit, Tesla had been ordered to ‘recall’ 362,758 vehicles equipped with its experimental driver-assistance software, known as Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta, which Tesla admitted may cause crashes.

But this week Musk has once again touted the self-driving service.

“I hesitate to say this but I think we’ll do it this year,” Musk was quoted by Reuters as saying on a conference call.

The test version of what Tesla’s FSD software will be “two steps forward, one step back between releases,” Musk reportedly said, “but the trend is very clearly towards full self driving, towards full autonomy.”

The technology as it stands now has drawn legal and regulatory scrutiny following crashes. Tesla has said the technology does not make the car autonomous, and still requires driver supervision.

But Tesla’s FSD and its Autopilot program are suspected as a possible cause of multiple fatal crashes.

On Wednesday Tesla’s financial chief Zachary Kirkhorn said its automotive margin in the first quarter was hurt not only by price cuts, but also increased deferred revenue for FSD software and that “this deferral should get recognised once some of the software catches up.”

Kirkhorn did not elaborate, Reuters reported.

Tesla had reported a lower-than-expected quarterly margin on Wednesday, but Musk said he would prioritise sales growth over profits in a weak economy.

Safety concerns

Elon Musk and Telsa are currently seeking regulatory approval for the company’s advanced driver assistant software, but last December Musk admitted it would not yet satisfy regulatory authorities.

And it is no secret that Tesla is facing challenges with both its ‘Autopilot’ system, as well as its experimental ‘Full Self-Driving’ beta system.

In June 2022 the US federal vehicle safety regulator in the US (NHTSA) said it was upgrading its investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot driving assistance system – the step taken before the agency determines a recall.

Indeed Tesla vehicles have reportedly accounted for nearly 70 percent of reported crashes involving advanced driver-assistance systems since June 2021, according to federal figures, but officials warned against drawing any safety conclusions.

NHTSA has opened 38 special investigations into crashes involving Tesla vehicles that have resulted in 19 deaths, looking at whether the software was a factor.

Over hyped?

Musk meanwhile has aggressively hyped Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD for years.

In late 2016 Musk reportedly promised Tesla fans a self-driving car that was capable of driving from Los Angeles to New York without “the need for a single touch” by the end of 2017.

Then in 2019, Musk raised billions of dollars for Tesla by promising investors the company would have 1 million “robotaxi ready” cars on the road by the end of 2020.

In July 2020, Elon Musk said that Tesla was “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology.

Level 5 is the holy grail of autonomous driving technology, as level 5 vehicles will not require human intervention, and need for a human drivers is eliminated.

Indeed, it is said that level 5 cars won’t even need to have steering wheels or acceleration/braking pedals.

These cars will be free from geofencing, and will be able to drive anywhere, and do anything that normal car with a human driver can do.

Tesla cars currently operate at a level-two, which requires the driver to remain alert and ready to act, with hands on the wheel.

Tesla has not helped matters with the naming of its self-driving systems.

California’s state transportation regulator has previously accused Tesla of false advertising since the features do not provide full autonomous vehicle control.