Elon Musk continues to push the narrative that Tesla Inc. will have vehicles ready to operate without a driver by the end of this year.
Tesla’s CEO made the claim during the company’s recent earnings call and repeated it on a podcast hosted by two executives at ARK Invest, which is an investor in Tesla.
“I think we will be feature complete – full self-driving – this year,” Musk said. “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 of certain of that. That is not a question mark.”
Musk has long bragged on the various technologies within his company’s vehicles, especially the self-driving aspects of them. However, the actual results have been a mixed bag. While it does appear that the company’s self-driving program is farther along that the competition, it’s not perfect.
(Tesla readying to lease Model 3 sedans to employees. Click Here for the story.)
In fact, the company’s vehicles have been involved several crashes while its Autopilot, the name it gave to its self-driving program, has been engaged. Those crashes have results in several lawsuits against Tesla.
Though he once again talked about how advanced the Tesla system is, he was quick to add a dose of realism to the idea.
“However,” he added, “people sometimes will extrapolate that to mean now it works with 100% certainty, requires no observation, perfectly. This is not the case.”
(Click Here for more about Tesla’s $218M purchase of Maxwell Tech.)
Musk noted that how quickly the system runs perfectly and the speed at which the technology makes it into the hands of customers depends on regulators. The controversial entrepreneur was also quick to add that he believed within two years the technology ought to be there for cars to operate without any help from a driver at all.
“My guess as to when we would think it is safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination? Probably towards the end of next year,” he said. “That is when I think it would be safe enough for that.”
Tesla makes up about 8% of ARK Invest’s holdings, and it may have the highest price target on Tesla stock: $4,000. One of its flagship ETFs has reduced its share in Tesla, though the stock remains one of ARK Invest’s top holdings across several funds.
(Tesla strongly hints at Q1 loss, facing strong headwinds ahead. Click Here for the story.)
Perhaps the closes challenger to Musk and Tesla is Waymo, which is currently running a taxi service in Arizona using autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The minivans have performed well in early trials and Waymo is in the process of expanding the operations to other parts of the country.