If there's one area in which Tesla CEO's predictions regularly fail to come true, it's fully autonomous driving. Elon Musk has advanced unrealistic targets for full autonomy on so many occasions that it's hard to take them serious anymore.
Still, Tesla's head honcho hasn't given up on trying to predict when his company's Full Self-Driving software will actually do exactly what is says on the box – i.e. drive by itself without any human intervention.
Speaking at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on July 6, Musk said Tesla's FSD is "very close" to being able to operate without human intervention and will reach Level 4 or Level 5 autonomy before the end of this year, according to AFP (via DriveTeslaCanada). Mind you, he did note that "this is only speculation," which is rather confusing coming from the CEO.
"In terms of where Tesla is at this stage, I think we are very close to achieving full self-driving without human supervision. This is only speculation, but I think we'll achieve full self-driving, maybe what you would call four or five, I think later this year."
Musk admitted that he had been wrong in previous predictions regarding autonomy, but added, "I feel like we're closer to it than we ever have been." The fact he specifically mentioned Level 4 or Level 5 is significant because these levels require no human intervention at all during the driving process.
Gallery: 2023 Tesla Model S
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines Level 5 as a fully autonomous driving system that requires the vehicle to operate in all areas under all conditions and not require the driver to take over control at any point. Level 4 is slightly less capable – it will still be able to operate fully autonomously in most circumstances, but the driver would have the option to manually override.
Looking at what Tesla's Full Self-Driving Beta stack is capable at the moment, it's clearly that the company is quite a long way from achieving Level 4, let alone Level 5.
As it stands, Tesla's FSD Beta takes over after the driver sets a destination in the navigation system. As soon as the car reaches the programmed destination – with zero, several, or many driver interventions (this is always a lottery) – it will automatically relinquish control to the driver, who still has to park the car. That's clearly not Level 4 or Level 5 autonomy.
Now, Elon Musk said in the past that FSD is safer than a human driver by a certain factor. It should become even safer with the Dojo supercomputer, which should launch next month. This will allow Tesla to process the massive amount of data from its fleet of vehicles using real-world driving scenarios, which would improve FSD Beta faster than we have seen so far.
Will the Dojo supercomputer enable Level 4 or Level 5 autonomy before the end of the year, though? We would like to hear your take on this, especially those of you who own FSD Beta-equipped Teslas.