It's not coming soon, if ever.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a history of making bold claims that seem far-fetched. His latest? That Tesla was very close to accomplishing Level 5 autonomy, where vehicles require no human intervention. Needless to say, a few eyebrows were raised within the industry.
Automotive News has spoken to several experts and others with industry knowledge and all have the same conclusion regarding Musk's latest claim: it's nonsense. "None of this is on a plane of reality," said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. "It's an absurd idea at this point in time with the technology available and infrastructure available and complete unwillingness of Tesla to acknowledge its mistakes."
Google's self-driving division, Waymo, continues to test its fleet of Level 4 self-driving minivans; all have a human backup driver behind the wheel at all times. Even Waymo CEO John Krafcik remains unconvinced at the reality of achieving Level 5, at least not anytime soon. "Level 5 is a bit of a myth," he said last June. "Level 5 means you can drive anything anywhere in any weather conditions, like, you can drive from San Francisco to Santiago, Chile, any time of year, just press a button. This is probably never going to happen. Humans don't even do this."
Perhaps the most stinging rebuttal to Musk's remarks comes from Missy Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University.
"There is no way, shape or form the car is going to be Level 5," she stated in a radio interview last week. "He doesn't really understand what Level 5 is. I think what he means is Level 4, and he's not even going to get Level 4. The perception systems don't work well in weather conditions, with long shadows. We know the Tesla perception system, and the news is it's a really bad system."
So unless Musk knows something no other self-driving expert knows outside of Tesla, it doesn't appear Level 5 will be happening anytime soon.