CEO of American automotive and energy storage company, Tesla, Elon Musk has said that fully-autonomous Teslas will be possible in two years’ time, adding that Tesla cars will be able to be summoned and drive autonomously to pick up their owners.
The electric car company has rolled out a new version of its Model S and Model X software which gives Tesla’s premium automobiles the ability to park in a space perpendicular to the road. They can already do parallel parking and park in a garage, including operating a garage door.
Musk said at a press conference held on Sunday night: “I actually think, and I might be slightly optimistic on this, within two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country.
“It’s more like remote-control parking. But this is the first little step in that direction.”
The software also allows a car’s owner to “summon” the car and have it drive out of the space to meet them, if within 3 miles of the car.
In ~2 years, summon should work anywhere connected by land & not blocked by borders, eg you’re in LA and the car is in NY
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2016
Musk later admitted that his predictions “might be slightly optimistic” and he clarified that sort of autonomous driving would require more than a simple software update to existing Model S and Model X vehicles. “We do need more sensors than the car currently has to achieve that goal. You need a lot of redundancy … more cameras, more radars, redundant power buses … so that any system can fail in the car and it doesn’t need to back up to a driver.”
That means that retail Teslas might not be driving themselves in two years, but Musk thinks the technology will be totally in place by that point. As he noted to reporters, “in that timeframe of 24 to 36 months, it will be able to drive on virtually all roads at a safety level significantly better than human.”
The company warned that the car is not capable of spotting every object, including bikes hanging from the ceiling of a garage, but the system should be helpful for tight-parking spots that prevent the driver from exiting the vehicle.
New speed limits are now in place, meaning the cars will only drive at or slightly above the speed limit when using the Autopilot on residential roads and without a central reservation automatically slowing down when it enters the area. The car will also slow for corners and when an indicator is used for exiting a highway.
The software update began rolling out to the company’s 60,000 vehicles, including the new Model X and Model S’s made after September 2014. Musk said he’s not aware of any accidents caused when a Tesla was driving in Autopilot mode.