This time next year self-driving Tesla cars could be up and running, according to billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk.
Musk is ‘certain’ the technology needed for self-driving Teslas will be ready by the end of this year (2019).
However, he cautioned that it take a while longer before humans will be able to safely fall asleep behind the wheel while their Tesla zooms down the highway.
‘I think we will be feature complete – full self-driving – this year,’ Musk said during a podcast interview on Tuesday.
‘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.
‘I would say I am certain of that. That is not a question mark,’ he added.
The prediction lines up with Musk’s earlier comments, which came during Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call, wherein he said full self-driving software would launch later this year.
Musk clarified that the ‘fully self-driving’ technology doesn’t mean drivers will be able to cede control over to the car completely.
‘People will sometimes extrapolate that to mean now it works with 100 percent certainty, requires no observation, perfectly,’ Musk explained on the podcast. ‘This is not the case.’
The technology will mean that a Tesla can handle many driving scenarios, but will require humans to intervene at times.
This means it’ll most likely be akin to level three autonomy, which means the driver doesn’t have to monitor the car’s operations at all times, but has to be prepared to take over from time to time.
Additionally, the speed at which this technology lands in drivers’ hands is reliant upon regulatory standards. These can differ depending on where users live.
Despite this, Musk maintains that human drivers will be able to ‘fall asleep’ behind the wheel by 2020.
‘My guess as to when we would think it is safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination?’, Musk said.
‘Probably towards the end of next year. That is when I think it would be safe enough for that.’
Tesla has claimed to provide ‘full self-driving hardware’ on all its cars for several years.
The software, called Autopilot, is only present in ‘Enhanced Autopilot,’ which Tesla owners can purchase for $5,000.
Enhanced Autopilot ‘guides a car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits,’ Tesla’s website explains.
Musk has previously given aggressive timelines for the launch of a fully self-driving Tesla.
Tesla owners could purchase a ‘full self-driving’ feature between October 2016 and October 2018, but the feature, unlocked via a software update, never arrived, according to Wired.