Driving will never be the same.
Tesla has very successfully positioned itself as an auto industry disruptor as competitors race to launch their own all-electric vehicle lineups. But battery-electrics aren't the only area where Tesla has come to dominate. The California-based company's Supercharger network, over-the-air software updates, and general business model all play crucial roles in this new mobility era. At the same time, Tesla remains a technology powerhouse and CEO Elon Musk is determined to achieve one thing in particular before anyone else.
Reuters reports Musk, via a video message, told Shanghai's annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference Tesla is now "very close" to achieving Level 5 autonomous driving technology. Currently, the best automakers can do, including Tesla, is Level 3 which still requires driver intervention if needed. Level 4 will enable drivers to fall asleep if they wish but this type of self-driving is only supported in limited areas.
Level 5 is the granddaddy of them all. Zero human intervention is necessary no matter where the vehicle is driving in any weather condition.
"I'm extremely confident that Level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly," Musk told his audience. "I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for Level 5 autonomy complete this year."
This does not mean Tesla will begin rolling out OTA updates to customers in the coming months, but it should sound the alarm for competitors like Uber and Waymo who are also investing billions in autonomous driving tech. Tesla has always been the company to beat and Musk has no intention of letting that happen.
Although owners of the Tesla Model 3 and the rest of the lineup won't be enjoying Level 5 autonomy this year or even within the next few years, the fact that Tesla will soon have the know-how is equally significant. For example, it could sell the technology to other automakers, providing them with a cheaper alternative to developing the tech on their own. They may have no choice but to work with Tesla.
Countries throughout the world still aren't ready for Level 5 autonomy to arrive, but Tesla, as usual, remains ahead of game.