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Mar 9, 2018,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Elon Musk believes Tesla cars can drive themselves coast-to-coast in USA this year

In revealing Tesla’s latest quarterly reports, CEO Elon Musk announced that their self-driving cars will be able to drive from the USA’s eastern seaboard to its west coast within the next three to six months.


Released on Wednesday 7 February, Tesla’s Q4 2017 earnings report did not make for great reading, with the company announcing $675 million in losses on $3.3 billion revenue, $55 million more than the preceding quarter. Tesla CEO Elon Musk offset the news by announcing that the company’s autonomous cars would be capable of driving themselves coast-to-coast in the USA within the next three to six months, as reported by Mashable.


Delayed development


Back in October 2016, Musk showed a video of a Tesla car driving itself to work without human intervention. Development of the project has been delayed by the end of the company’s partnership with Mobileye, the developer of the original self-driving system for Tesla cars. As a result, Tesla has had to design its own technology, an onerous process that now seems to be reaching its conclusion.

Musk said the company could have already achieved full driving autonomy but that it would only work for a single route and not as a general solution. “It’s also one of those things that’s kind of exponential, it doesn’t seem there’s much progress and then suddenly ‘Wow’,” he added. “Time-wise, we could probably do a coast-to-coast drive in 3 months, 6 months in the outside.”


Absence of LIDAR technology


Musk also commented on the absence of LIDAR, which he called “a crutch” in Tesla's autonomous driving systems. He said the key problem in autonomous driving systems is passive optical recognition, which is done through cameras.

Though Musk is promising full autonomy, Tesla’s self-driving cars still only have a Level 2 autonomous driving system, which is behind some other car manufacturers, most notably Audi. A coast-to-coast autonomous drive would most likely require Level 4 autonomy or higher.


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