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Fully Autonomous Vehicles In 2 Years - Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk now estimates that the fully autonomous car is just two years away, cutting a year off his previous estimate. Tesla's current offering, called Autopilot (with video) is at Level 2 in the Five Levels of Vehicle Automation.
(The Five Levels of Vehicle Automation)
“I think we have all the pieces, and it’s just about refining those pieces, putting them in place, and making sure they work across a huge number of environments—and then we’re done,” Musk told Fortune with assuredness during his commute to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., where he is also CEO. “It’s a much easier problem than people think it is. But it’s not like George Hotz, a one-guy-and-three-months problem. You know, it’s more like, thousands of people for two years.”
“We’re going to end up with complete autonomy, and I think we will have complete autonomy in approximately two years.” That doesn’t mean city streets will be overflowing with driverless Tesla vehicles by 2018 (coincidentally, the company’s Model 3 should be on roads by then). Musk expects regulators will lag behind the technology. He predicts it will take an additional year for regulators to determine that it’s safe and to go through an approval process. In some jurisdictions, it may take five years or more, he says.
Musk adds an important caveat—one that raises the standard of what it means to achieve full autonomy. “When I say level 4, I mean level 4 autonomy with the probability of an accident is less than that of person,” he says.
SF great Robert Heinlein predicted the Level 2 autonomous car in his excellent 1941 novel Methuselah's Children.
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote about level 5 fully-autonomous cars in his 1976 novel Imperial Earth:
As the beautiful old car cruised in almost perfect silence under the guidance of its automatic controls, Duncan tried to see something of the terrain through which she was passing... Duncan could count at least 20 vehicles of different types and even though they were all moving in the same direction, the spectacle was somewhat alarming...
(Read more about Arthur C. Clarke's autonomous cars)
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