"I think we will be feature-complete full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention - this year. I would say that I am certain of that. That is not a question mark," Musk said.
Musk suggested the update would still require the driver to pay attention to the road, but estimated that Tesla vehicles will be capable of operating themselves without any attention from the driver by the end of next year. He added that both updates would depend on regulatory approval.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk's comments were similar to ones he made during Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings call in January, but his use of the word "certain" was striking. Musk is known for making bold predictions that the automaker sometimes misses, but he has qualified recent projections about vehicle demand and product timelines with more conservative language.
During the fourth-quarter earnings call, Musk referred to his predictions about demand for the Model 3 sedan, Tesla's timeline for introducing a long-awaited $35,000 (about R493,700) base model, and the future average selling price for the vehicle as guesses, rather than assertions.
Developing the autonomous capabilities Musk mentioned by the end of this year would put Tesla at the forefront of the autonomous-driving industry. Waymo, which is seen by experts as the industry's current leader, is operating an autonomous ride-hailing service, Waymo One, in parts of Arizona where vehicles drive without human assistance, but have in-vehicle safety operators ready to intervene if the vehicle encounters a particularly challenging situation. (A Waymo One rider told Business Insider the safety operator rarely takes control of the vehicle.)
Waymo has not announced a timeline for expanding the service beyond Arizona, and other high-profile rivals, like Uber and the General Motors spin-off, Cruise, have not set public deadlines for autonomous-driving capabilities as aggressive as Musk's.
But Musk has missed projections about autonomous-driving technology on multiple occasions. In 2015, Musk said Tesla would have fully autonomous driving technology ready in about two years, and Tesla has passed multiple deadlines set by Musk to send a self-driving vehicle across the US.
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