Is anyone really surprised?
For years, Elon Musk has made bold claims about how far Tesla is to attaining Level 5 autonomy in its cars. In July last year, he said that Tesla was "very close" to doing just that, a claim that was quickly dismissed by industry experts. With this in mind, Tesla's latest announcement comes as little surprise. The company has apparently informed a regulator in California that it may not achieve full self-driving technology before the end of 2021. This information was contained in a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) memo.
Clearly, Musk's overconfidence has caught up with him once again because it was earlier this year that he claimed to be "highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year." Considering the teething issues that Tesla has had in rolling out its full self-driving software (which isn't actually fully self-driving at all), it's obvious why the company wouldn't be ready with the tech in 2021.
"Tesla is at Level 2 currently," according to information in the Californian DMV. "Tesla indicated that Elon is extrapolating on the rates of improvement when speaking about L5 capabilities. Tesla couldn't say if the rate of improvement would make it to L5 by end of calendar year."
With Tesla at Level 2, it has fallen behind automakers like Honda. The Japanese company unveiled its first sedan with Level 3 autonomy in March, although the tech remains confined to that market for now. Before honing Level 5 tech, Tesla would be better off improving its existing Autopilot system. Consumer Reports ran a rather disturbing experiment that proved that a Tesla Model Y could be driven without a driver being seated behind the steering wheel. Even worse, some aftermarket parts suppliers are selling a cheat device that tricks the system into thinking a driver has their hands on the wheel. As for Level 5, we wouldn't get too excited about a fully self-driving Tesla just yet.