Tesla ‘Very Close’ To Full Autonomous Driving, Says Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had made a very bold prediction about the future of autonomous driving technology.

During remarks in a video message at the opening of Shanghai’s annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), Musk said that Tesla is “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology.

For those that don’t know, 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.

Elon Musk

Level 5

Indeed, it is said that level 5 cars won’t even 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.

According to Reuters, Musk made the comments on Thursday, when he was referring to the capability to navigate roads without any driver input.

“I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk reportedly said.

“I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year.”

Tesla of course offers its own cars that come with an Autopilot driver-assistance system, currently classed as level two.

Are we ready for ready for driverless transport?

This means that Tesla cars that use the Autopilot can only do so on limited-access highways. Drivers are required to monitor and remain responsible for the vehicle at all times.

And it worth remembering that Tesla has competition here. Alphabet’s Waymo division and Uber Technologies have been heavily investing in the autonomous driving industry for a while now.

Trust issue

While Musk’s bold assertion that full self-driving cars are nearly here, it remains to be seen whether authorities, and indeed the general public, are ready trust autonomous vehicles fully.

In December a Tesla Model 3 in autopilot self-driving mode crashed into a stationary police car in the US.

copyright Connecticut State Police

There have previously been other accidents whilst a Tesla has been driving on autopilot.

Indeed there are reportedly at least five fatalities worldwide involving Tesla vehicles on autopilot.

Last year an US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into a fatal Tesla crash in March involving its autopilot found that the self-driving technology was engaged for nearly 10 seconds before the crash.

In November last year the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the Uber self-driving car that hit and killed a pedestrian was not programmed to handle jaywalkers

In March 2018, one of Uber’s self-driving cars was involved in the fatal accident after it hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, while in the car was in autonomous mode.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, died from her injuries after she crossed the Arizona road late at night, right in front of the Uber self-driving car, a 2017 Volvo XC90.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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