Tesla is "very close" to attaining level-five autonomous driving technology, the firm's CEO Elon Musk stated today. Currently, Tesla's level-two Autopilot necessitates that drivers remain cautious and ready to act, with hands on the wheel, but a future software update, which would require no additional hardware, could activate level-five autonomy in the vehicles. Speaking via video at Shanghai's annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), Musk remarked:
“I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly. (...) I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year."
Automakers and tech companies, including Alphabet, and Uber, have heavily invested in the autonomous driving industry; however, it is believed that achieving the public's complete trust in autonomous vehicles might take some time. Tesla currently manufactures vehicles with an Autopilot driver-assistance system.
Musk's claims faced backlash from Tim Urquhart, an IHS Markit analyst who has questioned the naming convention of Tesla's system, and stated that Tesla users are complicit in misuse of the current technology. He also said:
"It's a typically bold claim by Mr Musk. Even if Tesla can reliably roll out the technology in a production environment, the regulatory environment in all the major markets is way behind allowing completely autonomous vehicles on the road."
Tesla recently became the world's most valuable automaker, as its shares soared due to record deliveries in Q2 2020.