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Tesla CEO Elon Musk drops his prediction of full autonomous driving from 3 years to just 2


Tesla CEO Elon Musk was at Stanford’s FutureFest recently and he described how he evaluates the progress and a timeline for artificial intelligence:

“If any given year you find your predictions are going further out or coming closer in, that actually one way to think of acceleration [of progress] because otherwise what’s the quantitative measure of AI?”

During the same talk, which took place in October, Musk said that fully autonomous cars are about 3 years away, a prediction he made several times in the past year or so. But today we learn that Musk updated his prediction to just 2 years.

The CEO made the comment while talking with Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec :

“We’re going to end up with complete autonomy, and I think we will have complete autonomy in approximately two years.”

To be clear, Musk is talking about a “level 4 autonomous vehicle”, which The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes as a “vehicle designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip”. The vehicle can be occupied or not.

Musk also added:

“When I say level 4, I mean level 4 autonomy with the probability of an accident is less than that of person,”

As usual, Musk adds that his timeline is for the technology to work. For commercial availability, he predicts regulations could take between 1 to 5 years depending on the jurisdiction. But just like it is the case for Tesla’s current generation of Autopilot, the company will likely include the technology in all vehicles for it to be enabled via a software update once ready.

During the same interview, Musk also addressed the recent controversy with George Hotz’s and Tesla’s Autopilot in partnership with Mobileye. Tesla already issued a statement regarding Hotz’s claims that he will soon be able to outperform Mobileye’s technology, but Musk added:

“There’s a ton of hard work and bug fixes, and it’s kind of like painful work, and it’s not fun and after doing that for a few years, if George, is prepared to do that, I think he would have a product that would be competitive with Mobileye. That is the actual path to compete with Mobileye. It is not George hacking by himself for a month. I mean, really. George says he did this with 2,000 lines of code. OK, listen buddy, uh, 2,000 lines of code does not cover the 8 billion corner cases of earth. The world is a complicated and messy place. Two thousand lines of code ain’t gonna cover it.”

At the official launch of the Autopilot in October, Tesla confirmed having a team of about 50 employees working on the software of the Autopilot, while a team of 100 people have been working on the hardware package. This is on top of Mobileye’s team and Musk recenlty announced on Twitter that company is looking for “hardcore software engineers” to add to the group working to make the Autopilot fully autonomous.

Musk also revealed that a “major announcement” is coming regarding a Tesla Autopilot update. We recently revealed that Tesla started testing the version 7.1 of its software, which will include UI improvements, a new self-parking feature, ‘Driver Mode’ and Autopilot restrictions. The CEO had previously mentioned that self-driving on private propriety, in order to allow the Model S to park itself in the garage for example, would be included in v7.1, but it wasn’t in the build released to testers. The announcement could possibly have something to do with this anticipated feature.

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  1. thegamingart - 7 years ago

    Unfortunately, this seems like a lot of wishful thinking. I think he’s ignoring too many factors in play.

  2. BEP - 7 years ago

    It’s called FutureFest and they use such furniture? Shame on them.

    • Repka - 7 years ago


      • Ryan - 7 years ago


        Certain styles have lasting style. If it’s the year 2300, it doesn’t mean you have to be drinking “space whiskey” and sitting on “space chairs” and playing “space basketball….” Maybe in 300 years we’ll just be drinking “whiskey,” sitting on “chairs,” and playing “basketball.”

  3. Roy - 7 years ago

    Given Elon has never hit a date in the past (both the model S and X were several years late) – why should he care now?
    As he himself has said more than once – the legal framework is likely to be the real holdup

    • MorinMoss - 7 years ago

      The Model X was at most 2 years late, not several.The Model S took a bit more than 3 yrs from 1st revealed prototype (Mar 2009) to for-sale production ( Jun 2012 ). But Tesla does have to work on delivering on schedule – or sooner.
      If they’re late with the production version of the Model 3, that will hurt them quite a bit.

  4. mickrussom - 7 years ago

    The real holdup will be government regulations, police trying to stop this because they love to arrest people for money and insurance rats who make a ton off of overpriced car insurance.

    • Bob - 7 years ago

      Police love to arrest people for money? Insurance rats? It’s ok to stop being angry.

  5. M - 7 years ago

    I think the theory is great but practice will be difficult. It’s like driving in the snow in the South. The danger isn’t you not knowing how to handle the conditions, it’s all the other drivers that cause the most problems. The idea of driverless cars is cool. I wonder if our grandchildren will look at us in awe that we actually had to drive our own cars. People that still drive cars will be hobbiests like ham radio operators.

  6. Danny Jones - 7 years ago

    Erm, so a year ago he said 3 years and now he says 2 years. Sounds about right.

  7. Jack C - 7 years ago

    Wishful thinking…Like electric cars and autopilot! GoTesla!


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