Elon Musk wants you to take your hands off the wheel, sit back and let his cars do all the hard work.
The founder of Tesla has just announced that every new car he produces will be fully autonomous — so much so that it can recharge itself, find itself a parking spot and even return to you at just the press of a button.
Tesla drives itself (no human input at all) thru urban streets to highway to streets, then finds a parking spot https://t.co/V2T7KGMPBo— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 20, 2016
After the Tesla models get equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and eight cameras with a 360 degree view, Musk claims they will have level 5 autonomy — which means they will basically require zero interaction from the driver who will only be sitting behind the wheel for “legal reasons.”
A video released by the company shows exactly how. The demo starts with the model pulling out of the garage on its own. The driver then gets in and the vehicle speeds off without the driver even touching the steering wheel.
The car turns corners, navigates traffic, stops at a red light and brakes when a pedestrian crosses the road. It ends with truly remarkable parallel parking, a feat many humans have difficulty in mastering.
Musk revealed some even more astounding details on his Twitter account.
When you want your car to return, tap Summon on your phone. It will eventually find you even if you are on the other side of the country— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 20, 2016
He also claims drivers will be able to communicate with their cars through an app even if they are “on the other side of the country.”
When searching for parking, the car reads the signs to see if it is allowed to park there, which is why it skipped the disabled spot— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 20, 2016
The existing Tesla autopilot seems amateurish by comparison. Although it can keep the car steady in its lane and avoid crashing into vehicles, it cannot yet navigate effectively on a busy freeway. Musk hopes his revolutionary machines will be ready by the end of 2016 and he can prove his success with a fully automated trip from Los Angeles to New York.
He has also assured that Teslawould take responsibility for any incident involving a failure of its cars systems, but would not do so blindly.
“It’s basically a supercomputer in a car,” Musk said.
The CEO admits the roll-out of Tesla software will be a slow one and the company will send over-the air updates every few months to make the car more autonomous.
Musk hopes the new model will be available by 2017 but has been known to miss his own self-imposed deadlines in the past.
Even so, the idea of a completely independent car is a very bold one, especially after the heavily criticized accidents and deaths involving its existing Autopilot system.
The company is facing federal investigations for the crashes and German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has asked Tesla to stop advertising the word “autopilot” for its cars.
If Musk manages to pull this thing off, driving will never be the same.